A 40-member consortium of livestock farmers in Matabeleland is finalising talks with an undisclosed Brazilian investor to raise funds to purchase a stake in troubled parastatal Cold Storage Company (CSC), an official has said.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union (ZCFU) national livestock chairperson Irene Maphenduka said negotiations with the Brazilian financier,who she refused to name, started last year.
“We are still negotiating for the deal, but the challenge is that CSC is heavily indebted,” Maphenduka said.
CSC, one of the State enterprises earmarked for privatisation, is battling with a $22 million debt and workers’ salary arrears of $2,1 million.
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 the government to look to private-public partnerships for funding.
CSC’s viability suffered a major set-back when the European Union (EU) suspended beef imports from the country in 2001 following an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.
It had an annual quota to the EU of 9 100 tonnes of beef and a $15 million revolving payment facility under which it was paid in advance.
The company used to earn the country at least $45 million per year.
Capacity utilisation has plunged to 7%, with its workforce dropping below 500 from the 1 500 in 1999.
— The Source