THE Cold Storage Company (CSC) is $22 million in the red and could have its property attached to settle the debt, it has emerged.
Sources close to the operations of the parastatal revealed that the debt had accumulated as a result of the dormant state of the company which was at one time a major beef exporter to the European Union.
Information made available showed that the company had not met rentals and service charge obligations to local authorities and tax authorities for several years.
The company has branches in Kadoma, Chinhoyi, Marondera, Masvingo, Harare, and Bulawayo where it is headquartered.
“We have operational problems arising from the refusal by the government to liberate our operations from the Ministry of Agriculture,” a source said.
“If the government allowed us to operate as some other independent entities such as Dairy Board (now Dairibord Zimbawe) and the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (now Cotco), we would be able to do things our way and break even,” the source said.
“Right now, we owe local authorities, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra), and the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) in excess of $22 million for rent arrears that have accumulated over the years.
“Our premises are on land that belongs to local authorities. We have not been able to pay rentals to those authorities because we do not have the money.
“NSSA and Zimra are also on our case. The risk that is alive to everyone is that we’re faced with the possibility of having CSC property attached by these local authorities in order to recover what we owe them,” the source said.
It was revealed that the government’s grip on the operations of the parastatal has had an adverse effect on the company’s operations.
On two or more occasions, the source said, the company had managed to strike deals with potential partners, but government’s bureaucracy led to the collapse of the deals.
“We have lost partners who had approached us for joint venture agreements because of the bureaucracy at the government level. We have consulted the ministry (of Agriculture) with our proposed joint venture agreements. All that we have been told is that Cabinet was reviewing our deals until a time when our potential partners gave up and withdrew from the deals,” the source added.
It has also been revealed that the company had lost more than 1 000 workers countrywide owing to its failure to pay salaries.