The revival of both the Cold Storage Company (CSC) and the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) is a very welcome development not just for residents of Bulawayo but the entire country. The revival of the two state enterprises will, however, directly benefit the residents of Bulawayo as it means more jobs for the city.
Government has already approved a $400 million deal for the recapitalisation of the NRZ and has also approved an $18 million investment for the revival of the CSC. A consortium of Zimbabweans in the diaspora partnered Transnet of South Africa to inject fresh capital into NRZ while the National Social Security Authority will provide funding for the revival of CSC.
The Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development responsible for Livestock, Cde Paddy Zhanda said this week that Government had approved NSSA’s investment towards the revival of CSC. He said business at CSC is expected to start next week and the injection of new capital should bring back CSC on its feet.
Deputy Minister Zhanda said NSSA already has the money to fund the revival of CSC and what is left is to finalise a few issues to do with the Scheme of Arrangement with creditors. He said the economy will benefit immensely from the revival of CSC as it will unlock value in the livestock industry through job creation and foreign currency earnings. The CSC, at one time the largest meat processor in Africa, handled up to 150 000 tonnes of beef and associated products annually and exported beef to the European Union where it had an annual quota of 9 100 tonnes of beef.
Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Dr Joram Gumbo said there were few issues to be ironed out regarding the recapitalisation of the NRZ. He, however, said work was expected to commence in the next 18 months. The NRZ recapitalisation programme has been granted National Project Status, a confirmation of Government’s commitment to its success.
The national rail carrier which at its peak used to employ about 20 000 workers and used to move 18 million tonnes of freight annually, has been adversely affected by obsolete and broken down infrastructure.
The revival of both the CSC and NRZ will have ripple effects not just to industries in the city but the entire country. Bulawayo which was the worst affected by company closures which saw the city losing about 20 000 jobs, will benefit directly from revival of the two companies that will create jobs.
A number of downstream industries will also be established, again creating new jobs. The challenge to the management of the two enterprises is to adequately prepare for this change of fortune and ensure transparency and accountability in their operations. Most of the problems bedevilling the two enterprises as well at other public enterprises have been blamed on poor corporate governance.
There are many cases when money injected as capital has been diverted to buy vehicles for managers and we want to believe measures have been put in place at both CSC and NRZ to prevent such abuse. A number of engineering companies are back in operation in Bulawayo and we want to urge Government to continue to assist the companies to increase capacity so that they can operate at full throttle.
Bulawayo should regain its status as the country’s industrial hub given its strategic position and the abundance of industrial buildings and land.