LEGISLATORS yesterday expressed mixed views over the recent announcement by Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa that the government would cede 80% of its shareholding in the Cold Storage Company to the National Social Security Authority (NSSA).
BY VENERANDA LANGA
CSC has been struggling with over $23 million debts, including $3,5 million in salary arrears.
In his 2018 National Budget statement last week, Chinamasa told Parliament that Cabinet had taken a decision that government cedes 80% of its shareholding in CSC to NSSA.
Chinamasa announced that in turn, NSSA would direct the resources towards resuscitation of the operations of CSC, in particular the revival of the cattle scheme, which is critical for increased beef production for domestic and export markets.
In an interview with NewsDay, chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands and Agriculture, Christopher Chitindi, described the announcement as a positive development.
“There was no need for government to keep holding onto the CSC shares when it was failing to recapitalise it,” he said.
“The move to cede the 80% CSC shares to NSSA will assist cattle farmers, especially those in the Matabeleland region, to improve on their herds. It will also ensure that the prices of cattle are favourable and assist CSC to be able to export their beef to other countries.”
But, Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Finance chairperson David Chapfika said he was still doubtful if it was a good idea for CSC shares to be ceded to NSSA, which supervises funds put in by workers as social security for their entire lives.
“I feel that the minister must have looked at other measures to finance loss-making parastatals like CSC. The issue of NSSA taking over 80% CSC shares from government needs further scrutiny,” he said.
Bulawayo South MP Eddie Cross (MDC-T), who is a former executive at CSC, said it was good news that NSSA would take over the 80% CSC shares to resuscitate the comatose company.
“I think it is wonderful news as long as NSSA has a plan to resuscitate CSC,” he said.
CSC is expected to spearhead the command livestock programme to improve the national herd which is estimated to be around 5,5 million beasts this year, a 4% increase from 5,3 million in 2016.