OPEN LETTER TO HIS EXCELLENCY, PRESIDENT ED MNANGANGWA
Your Excellency, as employees of Cold Storage Company (CSC) which include current employees, former employees, retirees/pensioners, widows and orphans of deceased former employees, we have grievances we wish for you to address on our behalf. We number over 500 and have outstanding salaries owed by the company (CSC). Efforts to get clarity on a number of issues have not been fruitful. Collective efforts to engage Boustead Beef on Friday 1 November 2019 were met with ruthlessness and threats and a show of man purporting to be state security agents being planted within the premises.
Boustead Beef which took over Cold Storage Company through a Livestock Joint Farming Concession Project (LJFCP) sent workers on a four months forced leave under the pretext of retooling. Current workers suspect this to be a plan to zerorize the leave days before massive retrenchments thus render any engagement impossible. We are dealing with a highly deceptive character with no moral fibre and if left unchecked will cause serious harm to many households.
Mr President we are excited on your Second Republic thrust on jobs creation and opening Zimbabwe to business. We are alarmed, shocked and filled with despondency by the attitude of the new CSC “investor”. His behaviour thus far has led us to believe that he is a high-tech streetwise con artist bent on defeating the government’s programme through fraudulent misrepresentation that he has organised investors with US$130 million which was later ramped up to US$400 million. We know government negotiated in good faith but was duped. We are sure that there are other potential local investors who ranked better than this conman Nicholas Havercroft. His appointment leads one to conclude that there was no rigorous and thorough process done to shortlist this man.
We have no doubt that you are a listening President, Your Excellence. We now seek your relook and intervention like you did on the NRZ deal on the following matters ;
- Livestock Joint Farming Concession Project (LJFCP) Agreement
Nicholas Havercroft has kept this as a guarded secret and only referred to it on cases that strip workers’ rights. Employees would appreciate being furnished with the signed full copy of the agreement so that they know their position in the ‘new deal’. Employees were recently given a vague letter from the Permanent Secretary spelling out that Cold Storage Company Limited is defunct and has now been replaced by Cold Storage Commission managed by Boustead Beef. In the same letter employees were informed that they were now former employees of CSC without spelling out their future and fate.
The impression created by the new owners is that government through CSC is compensating white farmers who lost land in Marondera during the land reform program.
There is need for an independent audit up to cut off point – to establish the state of affairs prior to 22 February 2019, the date on which Boustead took over as per the LJFCP. Assets verification and documentation is important to safeguard them from plunder through stripping. As employees, we have a vested interest in the preservation of this entity, which is also a flagship nationally for livestock and related trade.
We suspect that after firing the CSC managers, Boustead Beef seeks to destroy all institutional memory of the company thereby create a conducive climate to plunder the properties without a trace. In our view, government must ensure it keeps an audited record of all assets transferred to Boustead Beef in the LJFCP. Soon there will be no employee to explain to government what really happened this year and conveniently Nicholas Havercroft will blame the former CSC management and go unpunished.
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