The government has reached a fever pitch stage in partially privatising the timber manufacturing company, Allied Timbers, as it aims to transform the ailing company. The Cabinet is satisfied that Allied Timbers will rise again.
In a statement released recently, the Cabinet “noted with satisfaction the proposed roadmap that will ensure the engagement of suitable investors to partner government in Allied Timbers, a company poised to become a blue chip company.
“Critical milestones on the roadmap include: Ascertain the true value of assets under the Allied Timbers by urgently conducting independent valuations, regularising the lease agreement between the Forestry Commission and Allied Timbers, and affirmation by the government to protect the gazetted forested land for forestry purposes only, by addressing regulatory overlaps and discrepancies,” the Cabinet statement added.
The government says it will address corporate governance issues at the company to ensure stability at the management and other levels of the company while increasing production at existing plants.
The company’s operations have not been smooth sailing after its top management was arraigned on allegations of corruption leading to the resignation of its CEO, Daniel Sithole, last year.
Sithole, who was arrested and appeared before a Harare magistrate for flouting procurement procedure at the state-owned company, had served for three years. He resigned on 31 December last year.
He was charged with two counts of criminal abuse of office along with the company’s procurement manager Justice Chimusaro after they allegedly flouted procurement procedures and bought a $64,000 tellelogger from Izol Trading Company.
The company employs about 1,400 workers. It was born out of the Forestry Commission in 2003 and the idea was to separate regulatory activities from commercial activities. The intention was to enable both institutions to effectively pursue their mandates, with funds from the commercial division supposed to assist in funding the regulatory functions.
As such, the commercial wing gave rise to the Forestry Company of Zimbabwe, later rebranded to Allied while the regulatory activities were reconstituted into the Forestry Commission. The company controls about 60% of Zimbabwe’s commercial forests.
Allied Timber, through its subsidiaries, engages in planting, harvesting, processing, marketing, and selling timber products to construction and furniture industries, as well as end user customers in Zimbabwe and internationally.
The company exports its products to Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and the United States.