PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has reportedly clinched a deal to export beef to Equatorial Guinea amid reports that the Cold Storage Company (CSC) was only left with a mere 700 cattle, down from a head of 10 000 at the turn of the millennium.
BY NQOBILE BHEBHE
Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week said Equatorial Guinea President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo had made the beef request during Mugabe’s recent visit to the oil-rich country.
Currently, Equatorial Guinea gets supplies from Argentina.
Mnangagwa said Cabinet had already approved the arrangement and would recapitalise struggling CSC to enable it to meet demand for beef exports.
“When President Mugabe went to Nigeria for the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari, he visited Equatorial Guinea where he held talks with his friend President Nguema,” Mnangagwa said.
“Equatorial Guinea is a very rich small country which has a lot of oil. President Mugabe’s friend indicated they would want beef from Zimbabwe and he said, yes. At the moment they are getting their meat from Argentina.
“On Thursday, we had a Cabinet meeting and we agreed to inject money to revive CSC. We would want to capture that market we have been given by Equatorial Guinea. Instead of them getting their meat from Argentina, they should start getting it from us.”
Mnangagwa made the disclosure while addressing a Zanu PF campaign rally in Bulawayo on Saturday.
CSC is saddled with close to a $22 million debt and has seen production going down to around 10% of capacity.
The company was at one time the largest meat processor in Africa, handling up to 150 000 tonnes of beef and associated by-products each year and exporting to the European Union, but mismanagement and persistent outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease halted exports in 2001, affecting viability.
State media yesterday reported that CSC is left with just 700 cattle and more than $80 million was needed to bring the company back to its feet. CSC workers in Bulawayo last week staged protests demanding payment of their outstanding salaries dating back to 1999.
Most of the country’s leading cattle ranches are located in Matabeleland and the Midlands provinces with CSC’s main abattoirs located in Bulawayo.