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Candid Comment: NRZ must not send us on another wild goose chase

If NRZ bosses disagree they must explain why this important national asset has had a string of promising transactions that flop, but the pilgrimage has continued.

IT is becoming a tradition that at intervals of two to three years, foreign ‘investors’ troop in for yet another pilgrim — negotiating deals to recapitalise the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ).

When they fly in, unbelievable figures are tossed around.

By my count, the most recent such announcements pitched potential deals running into billions of United States dollars.

But I think they are nothing but self-enrichment schemes for selfish ends – filling the pockets of corrupt figures in government.

If NRZ bosses disagree they must explain why this important national asset has had a string of promising transactions that flop, but the pilgrimage has continued.

What is it that they are doing, which pushes away suitors?

If previous and current NRZ boards were working in the public interest, they should have taken time to understand why investors pack their bags and leave as soon as they land.

They should have told their bosses in government why the NRZ has struggled to find capital.

If in the eyes of investors, the NRZ is nothing but heaps of mangled steel, this must be relayed to the people, in the interest of transparency.

I doubt if these processes have been taking place because if such messages had been clearly stated, other options may have been pursued, and millions being deployed towards consultancy fees and other expensive undertakings may have been saved.

In the era of drought and climate change, the underprivileged should have surely benefited.

But because big transactions, like the ones for NRZ, are associated with extensive global escapades and luxuriating in exclusive hotels in the Far East we are being led astray.

Those privileged to be in these entourages earn hefty allowances.

Even if Zimbabwe loses, they personally gain. It is one of many ways parastatals bosses and bureaucrats enrich themselves at the expense of the country.

This is unfortunate for a bleeding Third World country that is in perpetual economic trouble.

We are dealing with corrupt officials who manipulate the public, and the truth behind many of our problems is never revealed.

Companies like the NRZ, along with such other state firms, have been turned into the vortexes of horror crimes and self-enrichment.

As we report this week, China Railway has deployed officials to look at the NRZ, for a potential US$533 million recapitalisation deal.

This is the time to leverage of lessons learnt from previous recapitalisation transactions that flopped.

This is not the first time that China’s big corporations have taken an interest in NRZ.

In 2005, CNR, another Chinese firm, took an interest.

If, in the current transactions NRZ bosses did not take this into consideration, this could be another wild goose chase.



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