Members of a sub-committee appointed by Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Judith Ncube to look into what is stalling the turnaround of the Cold Storage Company, which was placed under a corporate rescue plan in December 2020, were locked out of the CSC offices and had to meet in the car park.
The CSC, once one of the biggest meat processors in Africa, was placed under corporate rescue after Boustead Beef, an investor which entered into a 25-year agreement with the government to revive company failed to turn around the State-owned enterprise.
Boustead Beef, which claims to be a British investor, has refused to cooperate with the corporate rescuer.
The government entered into an agreement with Boustead Beef in 2019 under which Boustead Beef was supposed to invest US$130 million with US$45 million being ploughed in in the first year.
Boustead Beef, however, failed to inject any money to revive the CSC resulting in the government placing the CSC under corporate rescue.
Ngoni Kudenga who was appointed the corporate rescue practitioner (CRP) was disqualified because of alleged links to Lands and Agriculture Minister Anxious Masuka and was replaced by Bulawayo lawyer Vonani Majoko.
Majoko claims that he has been unable to operate because of interference from Boustead Beef, which has claimed over the past few months that it will be re-opening the Bulawayo abattoir in a few months.
Initially it said operations would resume by April, then this was pushed to May and now it says operations will resume in August.
Masuka and Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce, Raj Modi, who is also legislator for the area, toured the CSC last week and said operations will resume in August.
Insiders say Masuka’s impromptu tour of the CSC was probably sparked by a report prepared by a sub-committee set up by Judith Ncube which painted a bleak picture of the ailing state enterprise.
The report says the sub-committee -which comprised eight government officials, two advisers, two police officers and five members from the corporate rescuer- was appointed because the government was worried about the slow progress in turning around the CSC, one of the key industries in Bulawayo.
It said that the sub-committee was also set up because the rescue process was bedevilled with “never ending legal challenges”.
The sub-committee said that the key attributes of the CSC were that it had sustained Ian Smith’s Rhodesian government as a sanctions buster and was earning the country about US$50 million a year in beef exports.
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