Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa personally guaranteed that the government would provide $20 million for the retrenchment of Cold Storage Company workers to pave way for the joint venture partner Boustead Beef to have a clean start in reviving the ailing parastatal, according to an audio of a retrenchment committee meeting held at the CSC in March last year.
The meeting was reportedly held on 12 March last year and two of Boustead Beef’s representatives, Hellen Sibanda and Reginald Shoko, who were Human Resources manager and consultant, respectively, told the workers that they had met Mnangagwa personally on 3 March, not the Office of the President.
The Insider was not able to confirm with Mnangagwa’s spokesman George Charamba whether the meeting took place or the two were just name-dropping. It tried several times to reach Charamba from Tuesday.
Boustead Beef entered into an agreement to revive the CSC in January 2019 in what was hailed as a US$130 million investment but failed to do so forcing the government to place the company under a corporate rescue plan in December last year.
Although Boustead Beef was supposed to invest US$45 million in the first year, it shut down operations in September 2019 allegedly to retool and refurbish the Bulawayo factory by the end of January 2020 but it did not re-open instead announced at the beginning of February that it was retrenching workers so that it could recruit its own staff to start operations.
Lands and Agriculture Minister Anxious Masuka, who was a member of the CSC board which was sidelined during the discussions about the joint venture, announced soon after being appointed last year that the deal was being shelved because the joint venture partner had failed to meet its part of the agreement.
Boustead Beef was headed by Nick Havercroft but it pushed Shoko, previously a president of the Affirmative Action Group in Bulawayo, and Sibanda to the forefront, when things started collapsing.
They were spearheading the retrenching about 140 workers and claimed that they were doing so on behalf of the government.
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