In what appears to be one of the biggest travesties since the Emmerson Mnangagwa administration took over 26 months ago, one of its so-called foreign investments has failed to take off and instead the purported British company now plans to retrench more than 140 workers paying them packages which are an insult to any reasonably thinking person.
Boustead Beef, which was hailed as a British company, and was supposed to resuscitate the Cold Storage Company, Zimbabwe’s largest beef processor, has failed to take off for the second time in less than a year.
It was initially supposed to start operations on 1 September 2019, but instead it shut-down for four months to 31 January.
Now non-managerial employees have been sent letters notifying them that the company intends to retrench them from 1 February.
But what is more appalling are the wages that the workers are currently earning and upon which the retrenchment packages will be based.
The lowest paid employee earns a paltry $101 a month while the highest paid, a workshop foreman or an electrician, earns $537 a month.
While these salaries made sense when they were still in United States dollars or when the bond note was 1:1 with the US dollar, they no longer make sense today as $101 is less than U$5 while $537 is less than $25 at the real market rate.
One worker, who joined the CSC in 1977, still earns only $170 a month.
The letter sent out to the employees, signed by Reginald Shoko, a consultant for Boustead Beef Zimbabwe, reads: “As communicated to you, on 25th September 2019, the company has not been operational for more than 15 years hence the 4 months annual shut down of all Abattoirs and Sales Depots to enable the re-tooling of the Plant(s).”
No re-tooling was done in the four months.
“Boustead Beef Zimbabwe Pvt Ltd on behalf of the Republic of Zimbabwe/Cold Storage Company wishes to lawfully terminate all permanent employees on secondment. This will pave way for Boustead Beef to carry out its recruitment and selection processes in preparation for the full Production set to commence end of 1st Quarter 2020,” the letter said.
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