A British investor brought in to revive the Cold Storage Company, once one of the biggest meet processors in Africa, seems to have abandoned resuscitating the ailing State enterprise and instead engaged in drag racing at the plant at the weekend.
It is not clear who organised the drag racing but eye witnesses said the racing started at about 1pm and was going on up to about 7:30 pm. Some people, however, remained at the plant having a braai and drinks up to about 10pm.
They said participants were charged US$5 a car.
Asked who was responsible for organising the drag racing, Bulawayo lawyer Vonani Majoko, who was appointed the corporate rescuer for the CSC said: “I do not know who was responsible …but at the moment the party who I know to be in control of the CSC is Boustead. What I knew them to be doing was trying to get the cold rooms to work but certainly not racing.
“That has absolutely nothing to do with the CSC. I was made aware of it as it was happening. It was only when I was phoned that I became aware of it. That has nothing to do with the CSC.”
Boustead Beef entered into an agreement with the government to revive the CSC in 2019 under a 25-year arrangement which should have seen the company investing US$45 million in the first year.
According to the agreement the US$45 million was supposed to be spent as follows:
- Refurbishing of abattoirs, canning factory, distribution US$6 million.
- Working capital abattoirs, canning factory, distribution US$5 million.
- Logistic fleet, vehicles, distribution- abattoirs US$2 million.
- IT systems/meat matex/stock control/etc US$3 million.
- External cattle purchase facility US$5 million.
- External buy back facility for processed beef US$5 million.
- Capital expenditure ranches and feedlots US$4.5 million.
- Working capital ranches and feedlots US$3 million
- Logistics fleet ranches, vehicles US$1.5 million
- Cattle purchase US$10 million
But Boustead failed to implement anything resulting in the government placing the company under a corporate rescue plan in December last year.
Initially the government approved Ngoni Kudenga to carry out the rescue plan but Boustead Beef together with other creditors, believed to have been lobbied by Boustead, booted him out saying there was a conflict of interest as he was a former business partner of Lands and Agriculture Minister Anxious Masuka.
Majoko was hired instead but Majoko said yesterday he had hit into a brick wall because Boustead Beef was making it difficult for him to operate. He said he had hired a lawyer to sort out the mess.
Continued next page