COLD Storage Company (CSC)’s corporate rescue practitioner Vonani Majoko has questioned the legality of CSC-Boustead Beef Zimbabwe, a company set to take over the management of the meat processor’s operations for 25 years.
Majoko of Majoko and Majoko Legal Practitioners, who is currently seeking a two-year extension at the High Court as the rescue practitioner, said there was no company registered as CSC-Boustead Beef Zimbabwe in the country.
The country’s biggest meat processor is set to reopen this month under a new name, CSC-Boustead Beef Zimbabwe for the first time after being dormant for two decades.
Majoko is, however, questioning the legal existence of the CSC-Boustead Beef Zimbabwe.
Government and Boustead Beef, a United Kingdom-based investor signed a US$400 million agreement in 2019, which also obliged the investor to use the CSC’s assets and extinguish the company’s liabilities.
“There is no company registered as CSC-Boustead Beef Zimbabwe that I know of. That would have entailed a name change at the company’s office. If there was a name change I missed it,” Majoko said in an interview.
“As the CSC corporate rescue practitioner, I should have initiated such a name change after appropriate consultation with the shareholder, but I did not. There has been no legal name change. It’s of no legal force and is a nullity,” he added.
Majoko said legal obligations could not be avoided by changing a debtor’s name, “otherwise notaries would be obscenely rich from the business of debtors resorting to the simple device of a name change”.
Majoko is currently facing fraud allegations at Mbare Magistrates Court around issues of CSC rentals, while a complaint has been filed before the Master of the High Court over his alleged conflict of interest in CSC.
According to a letter dated April 14, 2022, by a former CSC employee seen by the Independent, Majoko is accused of being a creditor through CSC hence making him an interested party.
Interestingly, Majoko replaced Ngoni Kudenga of BDO Zimbabwe, who was also removed over conflict of interest allegations.
“As for the CSC opening after Easter, again, I only read about it in the press. If it happens, I would be overjoyed as would every Zimbabwean, but I’m not buying champagne to celebrate as yet,” he said.
“Look, some work has been done on the Bulawayo plant. I have toured the plant a few times. I do not believe it is possible that the plant will open this month. No one hides good news.
“Whoever would have gotten the abattoir running would have invited me to confirm to the public and creditors so I could say, as they say, we have a good story to tell.
“My scepticism comes from the fact that there have been such press announcements before, but not borne out by events on the ground,” he added.
Majoko’s latest comments come as various stakeholders are calling for his removal with some accusing him of being out of touch with developments in the company, while others allege that he has been closed out of the company.
Asked about why, as the corporate rescue practitioner, he was not in the know about developments at the CSC, Majoko said: “I don’t have the confidence of the Ministry of Lands, (Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement). It’s public knowledge that I don’t have the confidence of critical stakeholders in the CSC.
“There are court cases for my removal as CSC corporate rescue practitioner. With the challenges to my appointment, it is not difficult to see how confusion arises, especially since there are parallel agreements about the management of the same entity.
“I cannot say they don’t want me. They say that the process leading to my appointment was irregular,” Majoko said.
In terms of capital injection into the operations, he said: “To be honest at this stage I’m unable to say, except that some work has been done at the Bulawayo plant.”
Boustead Beef representative, Reginald Shoko said they were on schedule to reopen this month.
“I am lost about this name change issue because Boustead Beef Zimbabwe, that’s our company. It is Boustead Beef Zimbabwe trading as CSC-Boustead Beef,” he said.
“As for re-opening, we are still within our schedule for month-end and in fact, we have started screening former CSC employees for suitable ages.”
CSC has been struggling to sustain profitable operations over the years and faces the risk of liquidation as creditors demand their dues.
At Independence in 1980 and in the 1990s, CSC was one of Zimbabwe’s major foreign currency earners, as it exported beef to the European Union (EU).