24 June 2019

Mozambique: South African Company Abandoning Mafambisse Sugar

Maputo — The South African company Tongaat-Hulett has verbally informed workers at its sugar company in Mafambisse, in the central Mozambican province of Sofala, that it intends to pull out, according to the secretary of the Mafambisse trade union committee, Antonio Bassopa, cited by the Portuguese news agency Lusa.

Bassopa said members of the board had told him that Tongaat-Hulett is going through financial difficulties which make it impossible to continue operating the Mafambisse plant. The losses were such that Tongaat-Hulett believed it has no option but to pull out.

The company has already halted the production of cane to mill sugar in 2020. The plant is continuing its activity with sugar cane grown in 2018.

"So far the wages are being paid regularly", said Bassopa, "but it seems they want to stop cane production this year and get out of here".

Bassopa was reporting on a meeting between the workers and the management held in the office of the Dondo district administrator. The meeting was called after pressure from the workers.

"We learnt that the cane production equipment is being dismantled, and the factory directors are removing personal property from their residences", said Bassopa.

Tongaat-Hulett has said that it will keep its second Mozambican plantation and mill, at Xinavane in Maputo province, in operation. This is not much comfort for the 3,500 workers at Mafambisse, who are facing unemployment unless a new investor can be found, willing to purchase the Tongaat-Hulett holding.

The Mafambisse company is 85 per cent owned by Tongaat-Hulett, and 15 per cent by the Mozambican state.

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