Farai Rwodzi: The man


Once regarded as one of the most astute deal makers in town, Farai Rwodzi became one of the post-Independence youthful businessmen, who despite being reclusive, still managed to make newspaper headlines.

Although he has managed to build his empire away from the glare, the former Churchill Boys’ High School student has become famous in his circles for wearing customised formal shirts inscribed “Farai”.

In as much as he would appear like a typical flashy Zimbabwean businessman, many saw Rwodzi as an entrepreneur who was fond of taking the back seat during his public appearances.

He was probably one of the few businessmen in the country to have personalised websites, something not very common in this part of the world.

On his information portal, he indicated that he would want to be identified as a Zimbabwean entrepreneur in financial services, agriculture, retail, hospitality, manufacturing, property and mining.

Obviously with such a diversified portfolio, his net worth has always been under scrutiny.

His immovable properties are rumoured to include a penthouse near Harare Sports Club, two lavish houses in South Africa, a serene home in Greystone Park and another property in Umwinsdale.

Popularly known as Farai, he served his articles with Ernst&Young Chartered Accountants (Zimbabwe) between 1991 and 1995.

After qualifying as a chartered accountant (Zimbabwe) in 1996 Farai joined beverage maker Delta Corporation Limited before leaving for Real Africa Durolink (Private) Limited, where he was the executive director responsible for corporate finance.

Just before the turn of the millennium, Rwodzi in October 1999, set up Interfin Merchant Bank of Zimbabwe together with Tim Chiganze and Jerry Tsodzai.

Typical of most local investors on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, Rwodzi’s interest in listed companies are represented by investment vehicles with different names.

He has been credited for being instrumental in the founding and or transformation of several businesses and enterprises throughout the volatile economic environment that has characterised Zimbabwe since the late 1990s.

Analysts say Rwodzi’s ascendancy was triggered by positioning himself in capital raising initiatives where he would end up underwriting deals through Interfin.

Interfin were underwriters in the ART rights issue where the subscription rate was low. In the end Interfin was a significant shareholder in ART.

In 2009, Rwodzi was quoted on 100 Greatest Zimbabweans blogspot saying he would want to leave a legacy of reform.

Only time will tell if Rwodzi, who could be on his lowest ebb, may spring a comeback and live his dream.

Interfin was transformed into a niche bank that would host its clients every Friday.

Rwodzi and his partners became ambitious and thought of transforming the merchant bank into a commercial bank.

A chance presented itself when then CFX was struggling to raise the $12,5 million minimum capital requirements.

Interfin was offered a sweetener: It was begged to underwrite the bank’s $10 million rights issue on condition that it gained a controlling shareholding.
The deal sailed through, but not without Gilbert Muponda’s outbursts that Rwodzi and his team were fraudulently taking over his bank.

Muponda ran a campaign on social media telling everyone who cared to listen that he was muscled out of his bank.

Although Rwodzi dismissed Muponda’s campaign, it would inevitably affect the bank’s perception in the long run.

Rwodzi’s ascendancy was attributed to the backing of one of the factions in Zanu PF, although the businessman vehemently denied that.

Such speculation would make Farai an enigmatic figure who regards meditation and reading as one of his hobbies.

Yet the businessman can be credited for ending the Nigel Chanakira—John Moxon feud when he was chairman of Meikles.

His interest in Africom turned sour when he was arrested last year on espionage charges. The charges were later quashed.

He was to be kicked out of the company, which he had targeted to become one of the cash cows under his portfolio.

Rwodzi and his allies this year lost the fight to control African Sun.