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Shake-up at African Sun

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BY SHAME MAKOSHORI

AFRICAN Sun Limited (ASL) managing director Edwin Shangwa will leave Zimbabwe’s largest hospitality chain at the end of this year following a surprise shake-up announced yesterday, which will also see finance director, Believemore Dirorimwe stepping down.

The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed leisure chain indicated that it will abolish the managing director’s position from January 1, 2022 when Peter Saungweme, chief executive officer (CEO) at the Johannesburg Securities Exchange-listed Arden Capital Limited takes over as ASL CEO.

Ndangariro Mutizwa will come in as chief finance officer from next month, replacing Dirorimwe.

A KPMG-trained chartered accountant, Saungweme joins ASL having previously served as a non-executive director.

“Peter brings considerable strategic management experience given his current and previous roles. Ndangariro…has over 15 years experience in various finance and operation management roles across geographies and industries. Before joining African Sun, Ndangariro held several leadership roles, including finance director of Dawn, CFO of Mashonaland Holdings Limited, and other senior roles at Masawara PLC in the finance and investments departments,” ASL said in a statement.

Saungweme’s move could be part of a strategy to bolster the ASL brand, which has struggled to stand up to the pressures that confront consumer-facing enterprises, as well as higher levels of visibility imperative for hotel chains.

On the branding front, ASL has plummeted to the lowest indices since former CEO, Shingi Munyeza left the group about six years ago, after building massive networks on which ASL stood as it navigated Zimbabwe’s crisis.

At the stroke of transition in September 2015, ASL assumed the culture of a private company, instantly becoming one of a few big hospitality brands that are shy to engage the market.

ASL did not disclose why the two executives were leaving, but the new CEO comes during a period of extensive changes to the tourism sector, one of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 outbreak.

The sector, in which ASL is the biggest player, was affected by last year’s slowdown, which saw arrivals slowing down by 90%, according to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority.

Early this year, the Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe said the  tourism industry required at least US$100 million in fresh grants to stay afloat after suffering a one-year long plunge in arrivals.

ASL owns several top hotels including the Elephant Hills Resort in Victoria Falls.

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