Government plans to unbundle the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) into two units under its parastatals rationalisation programme targeting the country’s 78 state-owned enterprises (SOEs), starting with 10.
State Enterprises and Parastatals minister Gorden Moyo said Treasury was finalising a forensic audit for GMB in terms of which the unbundling will be determined.
The plan, he said, is to split the SOE into the strategic grain reserve unit and commercial unit for non-core operations.
“The division of GMB is still under consideration at the inter-ministerial committee on commercialisation and privatisation of parastatals,” Moyo said.
“This committee is currently going through the paper work,” Moyo said.
Government has already taken the critical step towards the privatisation of the institution by liberalising grain marketing and policing in favour of the establishment of a commodity exchange.
Prior to liberalisation last year, GMB had legal monopoly over trade in strategic grains such as maize and wheat, the country’s leading staple grains.
The GMB was among the country’s top 10 parastatals that were earmarked for privatisation this year. The list includes Agribank, Air Zimbabwe, Cold Storage Commission (CSC), the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe, the National Railways of Zimbabwe, NetOne, TelOne, Zesa and Ziscosteel.
The rest of the SOEs will be commercialised or privatised in the second phase.
It is estimated parastatals have the potential to contribute 40% to gross domestic product, but they have actually operated as a significant drag on both the economy and the fiscus. The bulk of the institutions are loss-making.
Moyo says government has missed its target to finalise the privatisation of 10 parastatals by year-end, as the process is taking longer than anticipated.
He said government has resolved to deal with the parastatal rationalisation issue on a case-by-case basis to determine how to restructure the enterprises.
Several options are being considered, including leases, management contracts and concessions.
“I would have loved all of them to be finished this year but the processes are taking longer,” Moyo said.
“It is proving to be taking more time than we anticipated as we need to do forensic audits and due diligence on the parastatals that are to be privatised. We also need to do consultations with all stakeholders.”
So far, only one parastatal, Ziscosteel, has been put to tender.
Moyo said government has also identified a partner for CSC. A partnership deal for Agribank is also going through the mill.