The much-heralded rescue plan for the Cold Storage Company, which was scuttled a week ago when the corporate rescue practitioner BDO Zimbabwe was disqualified has turned into a classic example of the African proverb: when two elephants fight it is the grass that suffers.
While the government and its investor, Boustead Beef, continue to dither over the future of what was once one of the biggest meat processors in Africa- more than 700 workers, who have had no regular salaries since 2012, continue to suffer. To make matters worse, they are being blamed for the company’s predicament.
The workers are, however, now saying enough is enough. They are not going to take insults from the failed investor lying down. They had accepted lies by the government in its application to the High Court for the rescue of the company and those by the investor because they had hoped that this would lead to a solution to their eight-year ordeal.
The workers have not disclosed how they are going to confront the lies but they wrote a seven-page letter to the Minister of Lands, Anxious Masuka, on 9 November last year disputing some of the claims in his court papers, especially allegations that they had frustrated Boustead Beef efforts to revive the company.
“Honourable Minister, we former employees of CSC assure you of our outmost support in your court application for the corporate rescue of CSC and pledge our commitment to provide time, full cooperation, and information resources to the Judicial Manager in his endeavor to resuscitate the once mighty CSC,” the workers said.
“The only but great exception we take is on the Investor’s false accusations and the sensational and unfounded reference to non-existent ‘sabotage’, ‘lack of co-operation’, ‘obstruction’, ‘corruption’ and ‘destruction of records’ by employees as the reason for his failure to make headway in fulfilling its obligations. Our own considered view, which stands to be disproved, is that the Investor simply lacks the capacity to carry out the task he committed to.”
The workers said Boustead Beef failed on its own and should not blame anyone as it took over the CSC completely with effect from 1 February 2019 under the following management team:
- Nick Havercroft – CEO/MD capacity, overall in charge, authorizes all payments. (He is the face of the Investor in our eyes.)
- Gavin Havercroft – Finance in charge of payments
- Mark Rousseau – Security and General Maintenance
- Douglas Cartwright – GM capacity with Finance oversight
- Hellen Sibanda – HR/Administrator
- Reginald Shoko – Consultant
- Zibusiso Sibanda – Consultant & Security issues
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