By NQOBANI NDLOVU
THE late Vice-Presidents John Landa Nkomo and Joseph Msika are some of the beneficiaries of “questionable” long-term Cold Storage Commission (CSC) lease agreements beyond the company’s specified tenure periods.
This is contained in a 2016 forensic audit into the financial operations of the State-owned meat processor by Auditor-General Mildred Chisi.
According to the report, the CSC leased most of its properties as at June 2015, but the Auditor-General raised eyebrows over some of the agreements which extended beyond the company’s specified tenure periods.
“During the period under review, CSC leased most of its properties (commercial, residential buildings, ranches and feeding lots and equipment) and signed lease agreements for properties with 247 tenants as at June 30, 2015 from which the following key findings were noted: (1) lease agreement beyond the specified tenure periods,” the report reads in part.
“Although CSC management informed us that CSC has short-term leases (six months tenure) and long-term leases (10 years), there were a number of lease agreements with tenures of up to 35 years.”
Chiri said there appears to be no standard rates/charges and there is no documentary evidence to support the rates applied.
According to the report, Nkomo’s estate has a 35-year lease expiring on February 1, 2040. The estate is paying US$252 in monthly rentals.
Msika’s estate also has a 35-year lease expiring on February 1, 2040 paying US$298 in monthly rentals.
Nkomo passed away on January 17, 2013 at the age of 78 and Msika on August 4, 2009 aged 86.
Other beneficiaries of long-term lease agreements is the late Retired Major General Javan Maseko’s estate, whose expiry date is listed as February 1, 2040.
The estate was listed as paying US$164 per month.
Maseko served in the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (Zipra) high command and at independence, he played a pivotal role in the integration of former warring forces, the Zipra, Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army and the Rhodesian Front.
One of the longest serving State parastatal bosses and former CSC chief executive officer Ngoni Chinogaramombe is also listed as a beneficiary.
The audit report lists him as having a 30-year lease expiring on March 31, 2041 and paying US$1 584 in monthly rentals.
Chinogaramombe served the country’s then internationally recognised sole meat processor and marketer for almost 34 years, having joined in 1984 and rose through the ranks to become its chief executive officer in 2005.
He left the company in 2019.
Lands and Agriculture minister Anxious Masuka recently approached the High Court seeking an order to place the CSC under judicial management.
In March 2019, government signed a “multi-million” deal with a United Kingdom-based investor Boustead Beef (Pvt) to resuscitate CSC.
Under the deal, the UK investor was to inject a total of US$400 million over the next fice years to revive the company, which has been dormant for the last two decades.
However, all has not been well at the company, with employees accusing Boustead Beef (Pvt) of stripping CSC assets for resale.
At its peak, the beef processor and marketer used to handle up to 150 000 tonnes of beef and associated by-products annually and exported to the European Union, where it had an annual quota of 9 100 tonnes of beef.