The Zimbabwean government has accelerated re-licensing of private abattoirs having tacitly acknowledged the failure of the state monopoly Cold Storage Company to meet national demand, but meat sector participants complained of official favoritism.
Critics of the government's reactivation of the private meat processing sector which it abruptly shut down in July under its offensive against high prices said new licences are going to senior officials while white-owned businesses have been excluded.
Some 42 private-sector slaughterhouses have been relicensed since the government reversed its policy due to the virtual disappearance of meat from butcher shops.
One abattoir granted a license as a subcontractor to the Cold Storage Company was said to belong to Trade and Industry Minister Obert Mpofu, who issued the order to re-license the abattoirs. Industry and local sources said Mpofu acquired Matetsi Meats in Matetsi, near Hwange, Matabeleland North, from a white owner around 2004.
Harare let meat producers raise beef prices earlier this month to increase availability. The state-run Herald newspaper said prices at the producer, wholesale and retail levels are respectively Z$181,000, Z$214,000 and Z$238,000 a kilogram.
Private-sector abattoirs seeking re-licensing must apply to the cabinet's Price Monitoring and Stabilization Task Force.
Bulawayo butcher Alex Goosen told reporter Patience Rusere that abattoirs granted licences so far are owned by government officials, and none by whites
More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...