Cold Storage Company (CSC), whose fortunes had slumped in the past few years, has revived operations at its Bulawayo abattoirs with at least 1 000 beasts slaughtered daily largely due to the Zimbabwe-Botswana cattle import deal.
In July this year, the government signed a memorandum of understanding with Botswana allowing for the importation of cattle for immediate slaughter to curtail the risk of foot-and-mouth disease spreading as Botswana has high incidence of the disease particularly in areas along the border with Zimbabwe.
The development has also seen a reduction in the price of beef on the local market due to the increase in the number of cattle slaughtered.
The low prices of the meat on sale at CSC outlets has put private butcheries under pressure to reduce costs in order to break even.
CSC wholesale price is pegged at $2,10 per kilogramme, which is lower than that of local butcheries which was at $2,50. On average, a kilogramme of beef is sold for $3,50 by private butcheries.
The deal has provided a lifeline for the financially hamstrung parastatal, which has been facing operational constraints and is one of 10 entities earmarked for privatisation.
The arrangement, which would result in 45 000 cattle from Botswana coming to Zimbabwe for slaughter at CSC premises, has been criticised by private abattoirs.
It is understood that the parastatal has in recent week’s recruited additional workforce to ease the workload.
CSC chief executive officer Ngoni Chinogaramombe had not yet responded to questions sent to him at the time of going to print.
Local players have, however, expressed concern that the deal will negatively impact their operations and lead to massive job cuts.
Butchery operators have raised concern that the areas from which these cattle are sourced in Botswana are prone to foot-and-mouth.
Operators said they had to explain to customers why their beef was more expensive than the imported product.
“The whole arrangement has adversely affected the beef market price in the southern part of the country. To remain in business we are forced to reduce prices to match CSC’s selling price,” said one operator.
CSC has several abattoirs around the country and at its peak it had a capacity to slaughter 600 000 cattle annually.