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DIDG seek NRZ deal revival

by Staff reporter
27 Jul 2021 at 07:12hrs | Views
THE Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group (DIDG) has pleaded with the Government to consider resuscitating its US$400 million National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) recapitalisation proposal.

In 2019, Cabinet cancelled the recapitalisation deal that the railway firm and DIDG/ Transnet Consortium had entered into in 2017 on account that the infrastructure development group lacked financial capacity to implement the project. This was after DIDG and Transnet, which formed the consortium, parted ways.

Following the termination of the US$400 million recapitalisation project, DIDG last year filed a US$236 million lawsuit against NRZ.

According to a letter leaked to Business Chronicle and addressed to NRZ board chair, Advocate Martin Dinha, by DIDG chairman, Mr Donovan Chimhandamba, dated June 22, he wrote requesting the NRZ board to facilitate a meeting with the Government through the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development.

"As you are aware, at the behest of our broad-based Zimbabwean diaspora shareholders, we have initiated legal proceedings towards yourselves.

"While we remain convicted on the validity of our claim, we, however, believe that the greater patriotic good can be achieved by us coming together to progress the nation's interest to revive the National Railways of Zimbabwe," reads part of the document. The planned NRZ rehabilitation programme among other critical works entails revamping of rolling stock and installation of traffic signals.

In his letter, Mr Chimhandamba outlined that it had been a while since their last engagements with NRZ and, thus, in the intervening period, a number of events have occurred.

Such changes, he said, included the Covid-19 pandemic, changes in leadership at the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development, change in NRZ management and in the market structure and global economic outlook. He stressed that all the above had given rise to a new opportunity for the parties to review their positions and re-establish their partnership in the quest to resuscitate NRZ.

"As you may recall, DIDG worked well together with the NRZ board, NRZ management and all the other stakeholders on this project and achieved so much more than is credited to all the institutions involved.

"As DIDG, while we reserve our shareholders' legal rights, we would like to assure you that DIDG and its shareholders remain committed to implementing this project in partnership with NRZ and the institutions of the Government of Zimbabwe," he said.

"As DIDG, we believe that the time is ripe for us led by yourself and the NRZ board to engage with the new leadership at the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development and work towards reinstate the project in a manner that allows NRZ, DIDG and the funders to map and execute a progressive and developmental way forward."

Further, Mr Chimhandamba said his investment group was, hereby, requesting the NRZ board to facilitate a meeting with the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development (Felix Mhona) and the NRZ team to explore ways to progress the NRZ project for the benefit of Zimbabwe.

Adv Dinha would not be reached for comment as his phone was not being answered by the time of going to print yesterday. However, speaking from DIDG headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa, Mr Chimhandamba confirmed their latest position on the US$400 million NRZ recapitalisation deal.

"We recognise that there have been many changes in the environment and we believe this presents another opportunity for all stakeholders and partners to come to the table with the intent of amicably resolving issues so that we can get the business of resuscitating NRZ going," he said.

"It is quite regrettable that we had to end up in a legal battle with our most important partner in this transaction. "We never envisaged that we will be in this situation when we started.

"An out of court settlement is, therefore, something positive and indeed something we will welcome if it may lead to some form of reconciliation and allow us to salvage this untenable situation."

Mr Chimandamba said reconciliation of their relationship with NRZ would unlock the deal they had entered into with the rail entity.

"Whilst litigation is not something that is enjoyable, on many occasions a lot of good projects were born out of long protracted legal battles. For us as DIDG because of our interest in changing the livelihood of people in the region, we will do everything possible to achieve our vision and values," he said.

"This is not to say that we are not amenable to the resolution of disputes in an amicable and progressive way.

"The resolution of disputes amicably and quickly as possible will avoid the country, NRZ and DIDG from losing time and money.

"If an out of court settlement can be achieved, it is a path we will support as this is one of our fundamental values, which we cherish and hope that this will become the path through which the NRZ deal will be delivered to the people rather than through litigation. We are Zimbabweans at heart and we remain committed to the ideas of a prosperous Zimbabwe," Mr Chimhandamba said.

DIDG is a company founded and duly incorporated in Zimbabwe and South Africa and is spearheaded largely by Zimbabwean diasporans based in South Africa with the long-term plan of expanding shareholder base to Zimbabwean residents and the rest of its Diaspora.

Source - chronicle

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