CHAT Breweries has shut down two Lusaka plants owing to alleged rampant thefts and dishonesty among employees and will only open once security is tightened up to seal loopholes, company proprietor Brian Mulubwa has said.
Mr. Mulubwa told the Daily Nation that he was pained to suspend Chat Breweries operations in Lusaka but was forced to do so because of the behaviour of some of the employees.
He said he had no option but to shut down the two plants because he was not in business to make losses.
Mr Mulubwa said his employees were not only stealing the mealie meal bought for brewing beer, but were also using his trucks to deliver beer for competitors under the pretext that it was Chat beer, when in fact not.
He said as a result of dishonesty among his employees, the quality of the beer brewed in Lusaka was compromised compared to that which was coming from the Copperbelt which he was personally supervising.
“I have decided to shut down two plants in Lusaka and concentrate on the three plants that are on the Copperbelt because my employees in Lusaka have been stealing from me. I use roller meal to brew beer and my employees, including senior people whom I entrusted with the responsibility of running the two breweries in Lusaka, started stealing mealie meal.
“The other unfortunate development is that my trucks were used to deliver beer for my competitors and this hampered my operations because even the quality of the beer was compromised since most of the mealie meal was stolen,” Mr. Mulubwa said.
He said the two breweries would resume operations once security measures were put in place to curb the thefts and malpractices which were causing massive losses.
Mr Mulubwa said it was unfortunate that the people who were benefiting from the company wanted it to go under even when it was their only source of income.
He said employees who resorted to stealing from the company they were working for were ungrateful.
“I would have continued losing large sums of money if some people did not tip me about what was going on. We apprehended one of the employees and took him to police and that is when we realised that these people have been stealing for a long time,” he said.
Asked whether it was true that the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) was the one that closed the two plants due to tax evasion, Mr. Mulubwa said the rumours were probably spread by former employees who were stealing from him or his competitors who wanted to tarnish the image of the company.
He said there was no way the Copperbelt plants would be operational if the company was not meeting its tax obligations.
The two Chat Breweries plants in Lusaka have been closed for over two months with only three plants on the Copperbelt still operating.