BULAWAYO, June 4 (The Source) – Government is struggling to find a partner to revive former meat processing giant Cold Storage Company as suitors are being turned off by the $22 million debt hanging over the company, a senior government official said on Wednesday.
CSC was at one time the largest meat processor in Africa, handling up to 150,000 tonnes of beef and associated bi-products a year and exporting beef to the European Union, but mismanagement and persistent outbreaks of foot and mouth diseases halted exports in 2001, affecting its viability.
“We have been looking, but unfortunately up to now nothing has come up,” Paddy Zhanda, deputy minister in charge of Livestock in the Ministry of Agriculture told The Source in an interview.
CSC is one of the state enterprises earmarked for privatisation and owes workers $2,1 million in arrears.
The bleeding parastatal recorded a $3 million loss in the first half of 2013 and requires $58 million to recapitalise. Last year it was directed by government to look to private-public partnerships for funding.
Talks between a 40-member consortium of livestock farmers in Matabeleland and a Brazilian financier seeking to purchase a stake in CSC came to nothing, the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) national livestock chairperson, Irene Maphenduka said.
“There is nothing at the moment. We are exploring many avenues which I cannot disclose now but nothing has come out,” Maphenduka said.
In February this year, Zhanda told Parliament that problems at the CSC were worsened by government’s failure to finance its activities, leading to the closure of its plants in Masvingo, Kadoma, Marondera and Chinhoyi.