THE bankrupt state-owned Zimbabwe Defence Industries (ZDI), a company that manufactures and supplies army uniforms, field equipment and ammunition for both the domestic and international markets, is now buying and selling scrap metal to keep afloat amid reports the majority of its workforce has been sent on forced leave.
ZDI was recently under siege from employees who had reportedly gone for seven months without salaries. Those still reporting for duty allege they are being forced work at the company farm. In an interview this week, ZDI managing director retired colonel Tshinga Dube said the company has been forced to diversify in order to survive.
“We are now buying and selling scrap metal from Ziscosteel (NewZim Steel), National Railways (of Zimbabwe) and other companies that have huge piles of scrap metal lying around in order to keep afloat,” he said.
Dube also confirmed his firm has been failing to pay its workers, but is in the process of rectifying the problem which is currently affecting the majority of companies in Zimbabwe.
“It is not true that we have not paid our workers for seven months, but there was a time when we could not pay them,” Dube said. “We have a backlog of three months and we have started disbursing some funds although the money is not enough.
“We are in serious problems because our main client, Zimbabwe Defence Forces, has not been buying weapons and our products are a bit expensive on the international market.”
He also said apart from suffering from the effects of sanctions, the company was also feeling the pinch of the prevailing liquidity challenges and high import duties levied on raw materials.
Problems bedevilling ZDI come amid reports that the company owns a 40% stake in the diamond mining company, Anjin Investments — a joint venture between Zimbabwe and China and one of the companies operating in the country’s Marange diamond fields. — Staff Writer.