Former Cold Storage Company (CSC) employees have blocked TSL Limited from using facilities at the State-entity’s Harare depot during the tobacco selling season, which kicked off yesterday.
The sales floors are meant to be used as banking facilities as a way of decongesting the tobacco sales floors.
TSL Limited, which is a tobacco player, entered into an agreement with the CSC to use the premises as banking space for tobacco farmers.
But several banks that wanted to operate from the premises have been blocked by former employees who have maintained a grip on the premises despite the existence of an investor, Boustead Beef, which partnered with the government.
Well-placed sources told Business Times that the sector regulator, the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) had to intervene. It is understood that TIMB engaged CSC’s new corporate rescue practitioner to facilitate access to the premises.
“The situation at Harare Depot is getting out of hand and this was made worse when former employees in control of Harare depot that closed out banks who usually utilise the CSC facilities for banking activities during this tobacco selling season,” one source said.
“A lot of questions have remained unanswered as to how a mere former employee can disregard laws and government like that. TIMB had to intervene to address the impasse because the investor has proven to be powerless against these former employees.”
Business Times can report that despite the intervention of TIMB, the premises were still locked by yesterday.
The move by former CSC employees, analysts said, was likely to create chaos at the tobacco auction floors.
Efforts to get a comment from TIMB chief executive officer, Andrew Matibiri, were futile.
TIMB board chairman Patrick Devenish was said to be on holiday out of the country.
Boustard Beef representative Nick Havercroft confirmed receiving the reports but referred all questions to the CSC corporate rescue practitioner.
This is not the first time that the meat processor has been in the news for the wrong reasons.
Business Times reported last year that ex-employees have maintained grip on the company’s assets and operations despite the coming in of a new investor, Boustead Beef Zimbabwe.
It is also understood that at least 50 companies are leasing the CSC Harare deport facilities.
But, only three companies are remitting rentals to Boustead Beef and CSC while the majority are remitting rentals to ex-CSC employees who are illegally controlling the premises for close to a decade.
Part of Harare depot facilities have since been subdivided to small warehouses and SMEs shops.
The cartel of former employees has also assigned their proxies and representatives to man the premises and make sure the new investor is denied access to the premises and all the important information.
This has seen the ex-employees locking doors on facilities that are housing critical material and information including cold rooms.
“The investor sometime last year came with engineers to assess the state of cold rooms at the Harare Depot but they found all the facilities locked. When they tried to gain access that is when they were told by the proxies’ manning the complex that they had an order to deny them access from a team of former CSC managers and board members.
“The proxies even bragged of enjoying the protection of top officials at the Ministry (names withheld). The proceeds from the leasing of the facilities are shared with powerful people in government,” said one of the proxies who requested anonymity.
CSC has also been a theatre of corruption amid reports that more than 10 000 herd of cattle has been misappropriated in the government cattle heifer breed schemes.