CHINHOYI — A storm is brewing between empowerment lobby group Affirmative Action Group (AAG) and authorities at the privately-owned Lomagundi College after the latter terminated the services of an indigenous company that supplied uniforms to the school.
On November 21 this year, Lomagundi College Trust chairperson Douglas Taylor Freeme wrote to the indigenous businessperson Farai Kudita and his wife to wind up their on-campus uniform supply business and vacate the premises by December 31.
However, the couple who are members of the AAG have vowed to resist the move, accusing the headmaster Marius Erlank of being racist and plotting to take over the business.
Read part of Freeme’s letter: “We reiterate that there is no lease agreement between Lomagundi College (the Trust) and yourself. At any rate, you have been given notice to vacate the premises, so that these can be availed to the Parents Teachers’ Association (PTA) for use as a thrift shop, in line with the ordinary school operational activities for which the Trust and the school were established.
“This development does not preclude you from continuing with your business outside the school premises.”
The Kuditas yesterday claimed they had stocked uniforms worth over $100 000 and stand to suffer financial prejudice if they moved out of the college. AAG Mashonaland West regional president Clifford Hlupeko yesterday described the move against their members as “racist and aimed at disempowering the few black businesspeople doing business at the institution”.
“This is racism and we understand its taking many forms at Lomagundi College. We cannot sit on our laurels as civilian rights are trampled upon,” said a visibly agitated Hlupeko, who stormed the college’s premises yesterday and met with college headmaster Erlank.
But Erlank hit back saying: “My worry has always been quality of the uniforms they supplied. There were numerous complaints over poor workmanship, particularly the blazers. Besides, the decision to take over the shop was taken by the board of governors and management staff to turn it into a thrift shop where the PTA would sell second hand clothing donated by students. This has nothing to do with racism; it is a purely administrative decision.”
The college’s chaplain Nick Audrey, added: “Times are tough in Zimbabwe and the Kuditas don’t need us to bolster them. They are looking for sympathy, for support. This has nothing to do with racial prejudice and we have nothing to do with what is happening in the economy. We sympathise with them.”