By Pamela Shumba
State-run pension fund, National Social Security Authority (NSSA) is expected to release money to the ailing Cold Storage Company within the first half of this year. Last year, NSSA announced its intent to invest $18 million into the CSC after the Government approved the transaction which would see the authority acquiring 80 percent stake in the country’s beef processor and marketer.
The Government will therefore remain with just 20 percent shareholding.
NSSA was asked by Government to implement a phased capital injection of $18 million.
Responding to written questions from Business Chronicle, NSSA general manager Ms Liz Chitiga said her organisation was awaiting shareholder agreements by relevant Government ministries before operations resume at CSC.
Once shareholder agreements are signed, NSSA will develop a sustainable business model and facilitate the injection of capital into the struggling beef processor.
“NSSA has seconded an official to do a pre-due diligence at CSC. The authority awaits the duly signed shareholder agreements by the relevant ministries within Government, after which a robust due diligence will be conducted by competent persons.
“This will enable NSSA to develop a sustainable business model as well as facilitate the injection of capital within the first half of 2018,” she said.
Ms Chitiga said their investment into CSC was part of efforts to grow and improve sustainability of the NSSA fund.
“The revival of CSC will empower communal and commercial cattle farmers and contribute to the resuscitation of the agricultural industry.
“It will also create direct and indirect jobs across the entire value chain. This is in line with Government’s initiative to boost livestock production under of Command Livestock,” she said.
It is hoped that the overall amount that would be injected into CSC will be a function of the business model and business plan to be adopted by NSSA.
Asked about the number of jobs to be created as a result of the $18 million NSSA investment, Ms Chitiga said:
“As we have not yet done a due diligence, we cannot give the number of jobs to be created, except to state that CSC’s revival will have a significant impact in terms of employment creation upstream and downstream as well as direct and indirect job creation in the southern region in particular and the country in general.”
She said NSSA was excited about the prospects of reviving Zimbabwe’s once leading beef processor and marketer adding that they intend to have the entity run professionally by a competent board and a suitably qualified management team for the benefit of all stakeholders.
The revival of CSC will go a long way in improving the economy through beef exports and unlocking value in the livestock industry.
The company at its peak used to handle up to 150 000 tonnes of beef and associated by-products every year and exported to the European Union, where it had an annual quota of 9 100 tonnes of beef.
It used to earn Zimbabwe about $45 million annually but had for the past 10 years been making $6 million loss every year.
The parastatal is saddled with a debt of more than $25 million mainly as a result of fixed costs such as wages, rates and taxes on land and it is in dispute with its creditors, including 413 former workers, who are owed about $4 million in salary arrears. The Chronicle