What makes the CSC-Boustead Beef story more interesting is that the State-owned media has gone on overdrive to promote the deal despite the gaping holes in it.
The media is already talking about benefits farmers will enjoy though it is quite clear that the plant is not operating. It was only put on a test run for Chiwenga.
Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa told the media in a post-cabinet briefing on Tuesday that the CSC intends to increase its daily slaughter from 60 to 2000, a figure that has been repeated several times by Boustead Beef Reginald Shoko.
No one has challenged Boustead Beef how it will achieve this because figures are there in the public domain that show that this is impossible.
The installed capacity for the Bulawayo plant is 800 cattle per day. That for Chinhoyi is 500. Marondera 500. Masvingo 500 and Kadoma 400.
According to the 2015-2019 turn-around document, only three abattoirs were operating: Bulawayo, Chinhoyi and Masvingo. Their installed capacity is only 1 800, so how will the CSC be able to slaughter 2 000 cattle a day even if all three were operational?
The question then becomes, why is Boustead Beef, and those backing it, hanging on to the CSC despite their proven failure to turn around the state-owned company?
Like in the farm mechanisation deal, it is the assets that the CSC has. Under the agreement that Boustead Beef signed with the government, it was supposed to:
- take over and run the management of the following CSC ranches for an initial period of 25 years: Maphaneni; Dubane; Umguza; Chivumbuni; Mushandike; Willsgrove; and Darwendale;
- take over and run the management of the following abattoirs for an initial period of 25 years: Bulawayo; Chinhoyi; Masvingo; Marondera; and Kadoma; and
- take over and manage for an initial period of 25 years, the Harare, Gweru and Mutare distribution centres and residential properties of CSC.
It is these assets that Boustead Beef and its backers are after. But, that is not all. According to the CSC turn-around document, management applied to government to sell excess industrial and other properties saying it could realise US$14.5 million from this. The government refused. These assets are still there and may be worth more.
There is, therefore, a lot of money that could be made from disposing of CSC assets.
The question is: Will the nation just sit and watch and continue to swallow the hogwash that is being thrown around in the name of development?