Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
GOVERNMENT is scouting for fresh investors to revive operations at the ailing Cold Storage Company (CSC) as part of measures to stimulate economic growth and create jobs, a Cabinet Minister said.
CSC is among the 12 State enterprises earmarked for speedy recovery under the parastatal reform initiative being implemented by the new political dispensation.
According to sources a joint venture proposal by Swiss and United Kingdom investors to revive the CSC is set to be finalised by end of this month.
Lands, Agriculture and Irrigation Development Minister Perrance Shiri said in an interview that attracting fresh foreign investment would allow CSC to invest in other areas and grow Zimbabwe’s economy.
“We are looking at the issue of CSC and there are a number of potential investors that include NSSA,” he said.
Minister Shiri would not be drawn into explaining the status of the NSSA deal but the authority had early this year announced that it was planning to inject $18 million to revive the ailing parastatal.
“It’s too early as there are quite a number of them (investors) and I think it would be unfair for me to divulge what they are offering,” said Minister Shiri.
He however, said the joint venture agreement between CSC and the potential investors would basically involve the running of the beef processor and marketer’s abattoirs dotted across the country.
The parastatal has abattoirs in Bulawayo, Masvingo, Chinhoyi, and Marondera.
“We also have CSC ranches so they (investors) will be running those and there is also the possibility of the out grower scheme where they will be dealing directly with farmers,” he said.
The revival of CSC will go a long way in improving the economy through beef exports as it will unlock value in the livestock industry.
At its peak, the country’s meat processor and marketer used to handle up to 150 000 tonnes of beef and associated by-products annually and exported to the European Union, where it had an annual quota of 9 100 tonnes of beef.
CSC used to earn Zimbabwe about $45 million annually but had for the past 10 years been making $6 million loss annually.
At present, the ailing entity is saddled with a debt overhang of more than $25 million, mainly as a result of fixed costs such as wages, rates and taxes on land.
It owes its 413 former workers $4 million in unpaid salaries. — @okazunga