INTERNATIONAL fast food giant KFC will reopen restaurants in Zimbabwe in the new year – but the company that holds the franchise is lobbying ministers to be allowed to import chickens from South Africa.
KFC closed branches in Harare and Bulawayo at the height of Zimbabwe’s economic crisis in 2007, but with the return to stability since 2009, the company has identified Zimbabwe as a potential growth area.
Businessman Kevin James – owner of Consolidated Farming Investments Limited, a leading investor in the fast food sector in Zimbabwe – is heading KFC’s re-entry into Zimbabwe.
James is also the CEO of South Africa-registered company, Country Bird Holdings Limited, the third biggest chicken supplier in that country.
Through his links with Country Bird Holdings, James has established himself as Zimbabwe’s biggest importer of chickens – but Finance Minister Tendai Biti significantly increased duty in his 2013 budget.
Sources told New Zimbabwe.com that James has been lobbying Biti for KFC to be granted an import duty exemption, or to be allowed to import chickens at a lower duty tariff.
KFC’s request for special treatment will rile the local poultry industry which has welcomed the new import duty regime of $1,50 per kg or 40%, whichever is higher.
The Zimbabwe Poultry Association said it hoped the new duty would see some of the US$65 million spent on imports going to local breeders.
Keith Warren, KFC’s general manager for Africa, says the return of KFC to Zimbabwe is part of an expansion strategy which will see more restaurants being opened in Angola, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Madagascar.