SEVERAL arms of Government in the Midlands Province say they are ready to smoothen the way for the birth of the US$1 billion Mvuma steel plant expected to be commissioned next year.
Set to be Africa’s biggest steel plant, the project will employ over 6 000 people.
The ground-breaking ceremony, undertaken by a local subsidiary of Chinese global steelmaker, Tsingshan Holdings, is expected to be presided over by President Mnangagwa in two months’ time, while the Chinese firm’s top brass will fly-in for the occasion.
Early this week, Government agencies in the province — led by the Midlands Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Mr Larry Mavima — convened for a consultative meeting at the project site to discuss implementation modalities.
Stakeholders — including the ministries of Industry and Commerce; Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement and Transport and Infrastructure Development — said the steel plant — expected to be a boon for infrastructure development, job creation and economic development of the provincial and national economies — meant lots of work in months ahead.
“We want to ensure a smooth takeoff of the project and every department that has something to do with this project has to play its part,” Minister Mavima told the meeting.
“We don’t want the investor to be denied any service they need when the Government and His Excellency, the President have approved the creation of this project. Let us ensure that it is implemented within the time frame agreed by Government,” Minister Mavima said.
He said some grand projects had failed in the past because of “falling into that trap of not following relevant procedures.”
Minister Mavima told the stakeholders:
“We don’t want anyone who will say, ‘I was not consulted.’ We will remove all landmines that you might encounter because this project will not only help the local community but also the GDP of the province and at national level. This project is being incorporated into our provincial economic plan for the next five years, which is similar to the Government’s National Development Strategy 1 blueprint.”
In addition to sprawling infrastructure development, the project will employ 6 000 people directly and make a town of its own that will be bigger than Redcliff — which served the former steel giant Zisco — in its heyday.
A dam over Munyati River, a new bridge, a tarred road, a 40-kilometre rail link to Gweru and an electricity substation are some of the substructures to accompany the plant.
Stakeholders also agreed that the development would cause environmental impact, and officials from the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) clarified various procedures required to ensure certification for safety and environmental standards.
The investors have also clarified that there will be no relocation of villagers.
A company representative told The Sunday Mail:
“From an investor perspective, we are overwhelmed by the efficiency of the province: it is unbelievable. We could not reach this stage without the help of various Government departments.”