The Sunday Mail
Government’s planned revival of giant meat processor — Cold Storage Company (CSC) — through Bousted Beef Zimbabwe, has reached an advanced stage following revelations that CSC recently received 2 000 herd of breeding cattle from South Africa.
Its Bulawayo depot is also set to re-open in the next four months.
CSC’s Bulawayo complex is the largest meat slaughtering facility on the continent, and only trails behind the Botswana Meat Commission with regards to the latest technologies in the beef processing industry.
Most of the CSC operations had ceased operations countrywide on the back of crippling financial limitations.
Last week, Government said despite recent contrived media reports casting aspersions on Bousted Beef’s capacity to turnaround CSC, it had full confidence that the selected investor would lift the meat processor out of its current financial position.
The revival of the country’s biggest meat processor and marketer, which has been operating in fits and starts over the past two decades, affirms Government’s commitment to reboot under-performing industries and the domestic economy at large.
Government envisions growing the country into a middle income economy by 2030.
President Mnangagwa’s administration has opened up the country for business, which has seen investors lining up to explore opportunities in the country.
The revival of CSC, under a US$400 million capital investment programme, is expected to create thousands of new jobs across the country. It will also generate significant amounts of foreign exchange revenue for Zimbabwe.
Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Climate, Mr Vangelis Haritatos told The Sunday Mail Business that as the revival process for the company gathers pace, CSC has taken delivery of 2 000 pure breed Brahman heifers.
“Last week on Friday I saw videos of 2 000 herd of cattle arriving at one of the ranches after being imported from South Africa. These are pure breed Brahman, very expensive cattle and they answer the issue of genetics. Let us give them a chance because due diligence was done,” he said.
Bousted Beef managing director Mr Nick Havercroft recently indicated that machinery worth about US$16 million had already been procured and is awaiting delivery to the company’s headquarters in Bulawayo.
Mr Havercroft said while they had initially planned to invest US$130 million over the next five years, plans have since changed after the company secured more markets. A capital injection of over US$400 million is now expected.
Besides reviving CSC’s dwindling cattle herd, which stood at 350 in 2017, Boustead Beef will also re-open the firm’s derelict abattoirs, meat processing and canning factory as well as its tannery.
Deputy Minister Haritatos, who is responsible for livestock production and development, said the new investor’s progress shows their commitment.
“Several companies did tender for CSC and they (Bousted Beef) won it. Strict due diligence was done by Government and they were identified as the best.
“I have full confidence in them. I meet them after every two weeks to get regular reports. The last report was this past week, we are on course and within the next four months, Bulawayo will re-open,” he said.
Drawn to comment on the company’s profile, the deputy minister said Bousted Beef has a bit of everything.
“They have a few local people, but there is a foreign component,” he said.
However, he indicated that since the deal was concluded before his appointment in August last year, he is yet to sift through the papers to see the nature and identity of the investors’ shareholding.
“What we want are the results and we believe that they will provide the results that this country needs,” Deputy Minister Haritatos said.
At the peak of its operations, CSC used to handle up to 150 000 tonnes of beef and associated by-products annually. The company would export to the European Union, where it had an annual quota of 9 100 tonnes of beef.
Annually, the cattle ranching and beef processor used to earn the country about US$45 million.
While CSC slaughtered 50 000 beasts every month nearly two decades ago, the numbers have gone down to just under 2 000 every month.
Poor management and persistent outbreaks of the foot and mouth disease, which halted exports in 2001 under the beef quota agreement with EU, have led to CSC’s demise.
Private abattoirs, some of which are hiring CSC facilities, have moved in to fill the void left by the parastatal in the domestic market.
Boustead Beef Zimbabwe, which is reportedly being financed by various equity investors from the United Kingdom, United States, Switzerland, Hong Kong and Australia, will take-over CSC’s legacy debt of close to US$100 million.