Thandiwe Katinhimure, Business Reporter
GOVERNMENT should fast track the revival of the Cold Storage Company (CSC) to stimulate growth of the leather industry and ensure increased contribution to the economy, players in the sector have said.
CSC is a strategic entity in the country’s leather value chain and the sluggish process towards its revival is a cause for concern to industry players. The company also has the potential to create hundreds of jobs and become the biggest supplier of hides in the scheme of import substitution, the Leather Institute of Zimbabwe (LIZ), said.
The institute’s chairman, Mr Cornelius Sunduza, said CSC was the only potential supplier of key raw materials and its revival would trip import costs and enhance competitiveness for both big enterprises and small to medium enterprises (SMEs).
“We call on the Government to put a policy, which proposes that CSC should supply the leather industry within the country rather than exporting the hides because it would rather be hard to negotiate with private players as they have tested the foreign currency from exporting their products,” said Mr Sunduza.
Meanwhile, CSC is awaiting shareholder agreements to be signed in order for the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) to inject $18 million investment capital into the struggling business.
Mr Sunduza said the plea to revive CSC comes on the back of increased competition in the industry with informal traders and SMEs at play as compared to the previous years. He said CSC revival and its ability to supply hides to all would level the playing field.
“Leather players from China are number one beneficiaries of hides from Zimbabwe as they are preferred by private players who opt for selling their hides to them because they have no confidence in the local leather businesses.
“As a result of this, we do not seem to gain from the private players as their focus is only on exportation,” he said.
Mr Sunduza said millions of tonnes of hides were being exported within the leather industry without value addition, depriving local businesses opportunity. At its peak, the leather industry was one of the country’s top foreign currency earners, exporting leather footwear and other goods. — @thandyfeminine