How can Mnangagwa allow this?


President Emmerson Mnangagwa has portrayed himself as a listening president, a caring president.

Now is the time to prove this, especially as one of the government’s most valuable companies, the Cold Storage Company, today holds a meeting to lay off more than 140 workers.

The CSC indeed needs to be revived. Some jobs have to be lost in the process. But this has to be done in a transparent manner. Workers have to know their fate, but more importantly, they need to get a decent exit package.

The agreement that Boustead Beef entered into with the government gave the workers who had been without salaries for seven years a lot of hope, but now they are being retrenched. And they are being offered peanuts.

This raises a lot of questions? What criterion was used to select Boustead Beef?

It does not seem to have any capital. It does not have any experience in the beef industry. It is not British as it claimed. Why the charade?

Why did the government scuttle the National Social Security Authority plan to take over the CSC? Yes the NSSA has been rocked by scandals but at least it had the money and offered workers a better exit package.

Whose interests is Boustead serving? Certainly not those of the government, not those of the workers, so who is benefitting from this deal?

In all honest, how can Mnangagwa and his administration allow an investor to pay workers a paltry $101 a month?

The lowest paid domestic worker earns $160 a month. In addition, the worker in entitled to allowances totaling $150 for food, accommodation and transport, raising the package to $310 a month.

The lowest paid general worker in the agricultural sectors earns $360.

So how was it possible for the CSC/Boustead to be allowed pay a cattle attendant $101 a month, a game scout $170, a skinner $273, an accounts clerk $335, an internal auditor $466 and an artisan $475.

These are the wages the workers were getting up to the end of January 2020, wages that were not reviewed from the days of the multiple currency regime.

Surely Mnangagwa cannot say he does not know the plight of CSC workers. His Agriculture Minister Perrence Shiri and Shiri’s deputy Vangelis Haritatos have been fully briefed about what is happening.

In fact, at one time when The Insider put new owner Nick Havercroft to task, he said The Insider must talk to the Ministry of Agriculture. Why? Was it still running the company?

Even the retrenchment letter sent out by Reginald Shoko reads: “Boustead Beef Zimbabwe Pvt Ltd on behalf of the Republic of Zimbabwe/Cold Storage Company wishes to lawfully terminate all permanent employees on secondment.”

Is it therefore Mnangagwa’s administration that is throwing workers onto the streets with packages of less than US$300 after serving the company for 43 years?

At 60, what hope does such a worker have of getting another job or starting something to earn a living?

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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