2021 kicked off with a promising start for the beleaguered Cold Storage Company. A reputable corporate rescue practitioner had been appointed to bail out the ailing state-owned enterprise after a much-hailed British investor had failed to revive the company, and according to the workers was in fact looting what was left of it.
The corporate rescuer was supposed to:
- to investigate the company’s affairs, business and property and financial situation in terms of Section 134 of the Insolvency Act;
- investigate previous CSC operations and expose the weaknesses within the systems and recommend possible solutions;
- investigate adherence to corporate governance principles and recommend aspects that require strengthening;
- confirm the number and status of the properties and ascertain the status of all CSC assets;
- investigate claims of asset stripping or any other activities and institute measures to stop the asset stripping immediately;
- examine the Scheme of Arrangement and recommend appropriate measures;
- investigate the employment and dismissal of employees from the date the Joint Venture was signed;
- examine and recommend Pension benefits due to the employees;
- examine Boustead Beef (Pvt) Ltd’s current operations (investments made and operational initiatives implemented since the signing of the agreement) and establish whether or not it has capacity to revive CSC and advance the Livestock Growth Plan.
But three months down the line everything was scuttled after creditors, ironically led by the investor, disqualified the rescue practitioner allegedly because of his close links to Lands and Agriculture Minister Anxious Masuka.
A Bulawayo legal practitioner, who had been an administrator for one of the CSC subsidiaries, was appointed but the same investor has crippled his operations. He is now seeking legal advice on the way forward.
But now a year is gone. Instead of reviving operations, the CSC plant was one weekend used for drag racing.
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