Walter Nyamukondiwa Chinhoyi Bureau
THE Cold Storage Company is on the brink of collapse and is left with only 600 cattle at its nine farms across the country. This translates to 66 beasts per farm. The parastatal had thousands of cattle in the 1990s but has fallen on hard times due to alleged mismanagement and corruption, and lack of innovation to deal with competition from private sector meat suppliers.
The Chinhoyi plant provides a microcosmic view of the state of affairs at the once vibrant company.
The CSC Chinhoyi used to employ about 500 people at the state-of-the-art plant in the Mashonaland West provincial capital at its peak, but now struggles to pay a skeletal staff of 65.
Equipped with a capacity to slaughter 500 cattle a day on conventional line, the company now slaughters only 15 beasts a day on a service slaughter basis.
Service slaughter is when people bring in their cattle for slaughtering and go away with the meat. They pay CSC for using its abattoir facilities.
CSC does not have cattle of its own to slaughter.
It costs US$25 to have a beast slaughtered and at a rate of about 300 cattle per month it means the company is realising just US$7 500 at the plant every month.
It also sells hides for about US$22, which adds an extra US$6 600, translating to about US$14 000 in revenue every month for Chinhoyi.
At the same time, the company owes creditors and statutory bodies like NSSA, Zimra, Zesa and Chinhoyi Municipality amounts running into hundreds of thousands of dollars.
CSC is currently running on a generator after Zesa disconnected the plant owing to non-payment of bills.
Chinhoyi Municipality followed suit and disconnected water supplies but an investor came to the company’s rescue and drilled a borehole.
Agriculture and Mechanisation Deputy Minister Paddy Zhanda, who toured the plant recently, said much needs to be done to resuscitate
CSC as it can play a key role in the country’s development matrix under Zim-Asset.
He said there was no reason for CSC not to thrive when private abattoirs with far less capacity were doing well.