Vice President Constantino Chiwenga was reportedly misled into believing that the Cold Storage Company in Bulawayo had reopened.
Chiwenga, then the acting president, officially reopened CSC on 22 August where he told hundreds of ZANU PF supporters bused in from all over Matabeleland for the event that the company will never again be allowed to shut down.
However, ZimLive reported that CSC has no working cold rooms and no capacity to store meat and a privately-owned butchery operating inside CSC is the only facility selling meat.
This comes after Boustead Beef, a UK-registered company owned by former Marondera farmer Nicholas Havercroft, struct a deal with the government to take over CSC’s assets and manage the meat processor’s operations for 25 years.
Havercroft claims to have so far invested US$24 million into CSC but the plant remains closed three weeks after it was officially opened.
ZimLive reported sources as saying the reopening was staged for a show by Havercroft who allegedly borrowed a stun gun, bullets and a brisket saw from Bulawayo Abattoirs, a subsidiary of Grills Group of Companies. Said a source:
Even the person who was stunning the animals was an employee from Bulawayo Abattoirs because we don’t have qualified staff as they were retrenched by Boustead.
It was just for show; go to the plant and see for yourself. We are not slaughtering, except for six beasts last week when a customer arrived without notice; we had to rush and borrow equipment from Grills.
A retrenched CSC veteran, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the publication that Boustead misled the government over a failure of the plant’s refrigeration system. He said:
You cannot drive those industrial refrigeration systems without loading a certain tonnage of ammonia, it is mission critical.
When they tried to load ammonia, the pipes blew. An inspection showed the pipes were worn out and leaking.
Without restarting the cold component, there is no Cold Storage Company.
Those fakes don’t meet ammonia system piping safety requirements, but the long and short is they will not get that plant up and running without first refitting the entire network.
It’s not a trivial problem; nobody can work in there even with minor leaks because ammonia is toxic at low concentrations and flammable once you start going up.