Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, Gwanda Correspondent
GOVERNMENT has secured a foreign investor to revive the Cold Storage Company and help clear an outstanding $36 million debt.
Although he could not be drawn into revealing the name of the investor and the amount to be invested, the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Development, Retired Air Marshal Perrance Shiri, said all paper work to finalise the deal had been completed and the project would start soon.
He said the partnership would see the Bulawayo, Masvingo and Chinhoyi CSC abattoirs being revived and operating in a viable manner.
“An investor has been found to revive the Cold Storage Company. I can’t reveal the name of the investor for now and the amount they are investing because the matter is yet to be presented before Cabinet but all I can say for now is that it’s a foreign investor,” said Minister Shiri.
“The investor will take over the CSC debt of $36 million and will service it over a period of time. The investor will be allowed to use the CSC factory for a specific number of years as part of the arrangement. Despite this arrangement, the CSC will remain property of the Government. We expect the revival process to start anytime from now because all the necessary paperwork is in place.”
Minister Shiri said the investor was also expected to complement the Command Livestock programme by introducing contract farming under the livestock sector.
He said as a result, beef exports would resume in the near future.
“Very soon we should witness the refurbishment and operation of the Bulawayo, Masvingo and Chinhoyi abattoirs. Take note that with this renowned thrust, issues to do with animal health and welfare are crucial,” he said.
“As Government we shall continue working closely with livestock farmers in order to meet our target of improving animal genetics. We want to ensure that we are able to export quality beef soon. I would like to urge livestock farmers to fully utilise opportunities presented to them aimed at improving their welfare.”
CSC was established in 1937 in terms of the Cold Storage Commission Act with the mandate of procuring, processing and marketing beef, lamb, goat and related products.
Government is the sole shareholder in the company that owns three abattoirs in Bulawayo, Masvingo and Chinhoyi.
The firm was commercialised in 1995 and also owns canning and tannery subsidiaries, both of which are located in Bulawayo, its headquarters.
However, the canning company is not operating viably because of a number of factors while the tannery is currently under judicial management.
Previous reports indicate that CSC requires about $58 million to recapitalise its operations.
These have also shown that out of a total of about 77 000 national slaughters in the first quarter of 2015, CSC only slaughtered about 5 000, which represents 7,3 percent of the total.
CSC used to be the largest meat processor in Africa, handling up to 150 000 tonnes of beef and associated by-products a year.