DAIRIBORD Zimbabwe Ltd has lost a bid to acquire Uganda’s biggest milk producer despite the vaunted bilateral trade agreements signed between Zimbabwe and Uganda last year.
The two countries signed a number of agreements, after President Yoweri Museveni visited Zimbabwe last year and invited Dairibord to tender for the
takeover of Dairy Corporation Ltd (DCL). Museveni also invited Zimbabwean companies to invest in Uganda.
Dairibord bid to take over DCL, Uganda’s leading milk producer, which was put on sale as part of Uganda’s privatisation drive.
However, Dairibord lost out when the Ugandan government made a last-minute decision to sell the company to a Thai firm, which had not put in a bid initially.
Reports from Uganda said Museveni personally directed his Minister of State for finance in charge of privatisation to sell the company to Malee Sampran Factory Ltd of Thailand for US$1 million.
Other losing bidders are two Kenyan firms – Brookside Dairy Ltd and Spin Knit Dairy, and a consortium of milk processors under the name Holding Company (FA) of Luxemburg.
The three companies have since written protest letters demanding an explanation on why Malee Sampran Factory was sold the company without a tender.
The last-minute decision cost Dairibord Zimbabwe thousands of United States dollars, which were spent on preparing the bid documents and visits to Uganda.
Dairibord chief executive Anthony Mandiwanza said he was not prepared to comment on the issue.
“I have nothing to say on that issue,” Mandiwanza said.
“The comment that we were going into Uganda was premature. You know that the company was taken by the Thai guys then what?” he said. “As for the details I really can’t comment.”
Museveni visited Zimbabwe last year in a rare state visit that was hailed by the government as the beginning of better trade relations between the two countries.
He brought a strong business delegation with him and toured Dairibord as
part of his familiarisation plan.