Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
British American Tobacco Zimbabwe today pledged to continue its operations in the country during a tour of its premises by Information, Media and Publicity Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo.
The pledge by the company follows reports in some sections of the media that the company was closing its production plant in Zimbabwe.
The company’s managing director Mr Lovemore Manatsa made the pledge after a closed door meeting with Prof Moyo.
“As BAT Zimbabwe we are not divesting out of Zimbabwe if anything we are investing in the company in Zimbabwe.
“Over the past four years we have put in about US$5,4 million in infrastructure and particularly now in the distribution part of the business. So that was the point of engaging key stakeholders including the minister of information to put the point across that we are not divesting out of Zimbabwe,” he said.
“As part of that engagement to make sure that we are not talking from the tops of our heads we invited them to come through to BAT headquarters here and walk through and appreciate what we are talking about and that is basically the reason why the minister and his team came in today.”
Mr Manatsa said they were committed to the country’s indigenisation policy.
“We are fairly confident that we are considered an indigenous player in this country through two vehicles – our Tobacco Empowerment Trust which owns 10,7 percent of the company and Employee Share Ownership Trust – which owns 10 percent. Both vehicles are in place and independent of BAT as a company,” he said. “We are here to stay and ensure that this business goes into the future on a sustainable basis.”
The company has a capacity to produce up to 2,5 billion cigarettes per year and is currently operating at approximately 70 percent of installed capacity due to demand.
The company produces for the domestic market.