BY Garikai Mafirakureva
Local businesspeople should come up with business partnerships that allow them to take advantage of investment opportunities opening up in Tongaat Hullets, the sugar company’s director for enterprises and community development, Thomas Dheka has said.
Speaking at a business indaba organised by the Lowveld Indigenous Business Association of Zimbabwe that was held at Hippo Valley Country Club last week, Dheka hinted that Tongaat Hullets was prepared to lease some of its properties, including schools, medical facilities and social amenities such as country clubs.
Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister, Ezra Chadzamira was a special guest at the meeting.
Although he initially ducked questions on why Tongaat was disposing most of its properties, Dheka indirectly told business delegates that the company wanted to concentrate on its core business of sugar production.
Dheka’s sentiments effectively threw cold water on speculation that the company was closing shop.
In February this year the Chiredzi-based sugar producing company conducted a voluntary sale of 26 of its properties mostly situated in Triangle.
The properties included commercial, residential and industrial stands worth millions of United States dollars. The move sparked speculation that the company might be slowly winding its business in Chiredzi.
Dheka’s presentation further ascertained that Tongaat Hullets is here to stay, after he stated that the company is about to diversify into beef production in a bid to revive the Cold Storage Commission (CSC), which he said needed about 25 000 cattle per year to slaughter. CSC’s operations have been in an indeterminate
state for almost two decades.
“We would like local businesspeople to take up the gauntlet and take up some of the business opportunities opening up in Tongaat. Some of you are rushing for what I can call low-lying business opportunities like selling computer consumables. Tongaat is giving business outside the company worth over ZWR$500 million
every year,” Dheka said.
“We shouldn’t lose sleep over the running of Hippo Valley and Triangle Country Clubs, schools or medical facilities and other properties when we have an organised business community. I am happy out of 13 of our transporters, seven are from Chiredzi.”
He added: “Some of you might think dreaming big is trying to square a circle, but I beg to differ because if you approach a bank with a business plan and a comprehensive business proposal, they will definitely give you a loan to start your business.”
Chadzamira weighed in and challenged locals to take advantage of the investment opportunities offered by Tongaat.
“I did not know that the concept of devolution has already been adopted here. As the Minister of State I applaud Tongaat for offering business opportunities to small and medium enterprises,” Chadzamira said.
This is an open challenge to locals. You can’t wait for companies outside Chiredzi to come and grab opportunities here while you are doing nothing. I also urge others like Malilangwe Trust, Save Conservancy and Gonarezhou just to mention a few to take a leaf from Tongaat.”