Butchery operators count loss as ZESA load shedding persists

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By Bulawayo Correspondent

SOME butchery operators in Bulawayo high density suburbs have organised themselves into cattle buying consortiums in a bid to save their meat stock from rotting as a result of the current power cuts which are crippling their businesses.

Butchery owners have been counting losses as they now spend long hours or in some cases days without electricity.

Zimbabwe is currently dogged by erratic power supplies and experiencing rolling blackouts which has seen some places going for up to 15 hours without power.

Butchery operators who spoke to complained that running butchery is now risky and stressing business.

“With the current electricity shortages coupled with the heat wave, it is no longer possible to buy a whole beast for resale.  Last week I was forced to throw away almost 200 kgs of rotten beef  because of electricity shortages. Operating a butchery these days is now like gambling,” said Mike Ndlovu who operates a butchery at North end shopping centre.

Ndlovu said he and other butchery operators at the shopping centre recently formed a beef buying committee.

After buying the cattle, the operators share the beef among themselves.

“The idea is to try to have less beef at any given time. In that way, we will be minimising any losses due to the power cuts. The more beef one has in stock, the more chances of   the meat going bad,” said Ndlovu.

Another butchery operator based at Sekusile shopping centre said he has also lost beef due to the power outages.

“From a business point of view, these days it is now risky to stock large quantities of beef, especially offals .They can easily go bad,” said the operator.

He said he is now specialising in selling goat meat, pork and chickens which can be easily disposed of.

Some operators said they have temporarily suspended operations until the electricity situation improves.

“Most farmers in rural areas are disposing of their livestock at very low prices because of drought.

Right now I am busy buying cattle from those farmers and keeping them for future resale,” said Caleb Sangore who operates a butchery in Kensington.

About three years ago, there were media reports that some unscrupulous meat retailers in Harare were using embalming chemicals to preserve meat.