Kasukuwere, KFC in chicken war
HARARE – One of the world’s most popular chicken franchises, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC)’s bid to fly back into Zimbabwe is facing huge challenges.
Indegenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere has slammed Kevin James, the franchise holder for the fast-food giant for opting for South African imported chickens as he re-establishes KFC in Zimbabwe in the New Year.
Kasukuwere said the move is meant to stifle efforts to empower local producers.
“We are not going to let this provision hold, with an already flooded poultry industry, we would be stupid to let James import South African chickens,” Kasukuwere told the Daily News on Sunday.
“The Finance minister will tell you that our import-export bill is not looking good so we cannot allow South African chickens into our market, leave out the fact that their chickens are genetically modified and our food industry is organic,” Kasukuwere said.
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 largest chicken supplier in that country.
The franchise holder is reportedly lobbying ministers to be allowed to import chickens from South Africa, the objective being for KFC to be granted an import duty exemption, or to be allowed to import chickens at a lower duty tariff.
The last KFC franchise holder in Zimbabwe was Firmside Investments, which also runs the Wimpy franchise, who got hit by the economic meltdown that affected Zimbabwe from the turn of the decade to 2009.
David Haslack, an Administrative Director at Irvine’s Chickens (a local chicken supplier) told the Daily News on Sunday that although the franchiser had initially approached his organisation for a contract to supply chickens, KFC pulled out “at the last minute” and abandoned the deal.
In the countries that it operates, KFC has made headlines through the use of growth hormones on their chickens. This allows them to mass produce chickens with large body mass at very short time intervals.
Some of these chickens die due to obesity before slaughter.
KFC’s request for special treatment has riled the local poultry industry which has welcomed the new import duty regime of $1, 50 per kg or 40 percent, whichever is higher.
The Zimbabwe Poultry Association (ZPA) said it hoped the new duty regime would see some of the $65 million spent on imports going to local breeders.
ZPA said although they do not have legislative powers, government is their last card in the KFC battle.
“As far as we know, South African chickens were banned in Zimbabwe.
“However, as we all know Zimbabwe is looking for foreign investors, so we will wait and see how government tackles this issue,” said Mario Beffa, an administrator at ZPA.
“The local poultry industry is already flooded. We hope government will act in the interest of the nation and make sure KFC make use of local organic chickens,” said Beffa.
Efforts to get a comment from James were futile as he was said to be out of the country.