WHEN in December 2012 Amos Mukwada (52) received the sad news that a garment manufacturing company he was working for was shutting down, hopelessness overwhelmed him as uncertainty took centre stage.
Having worked for the company for a decade, Mukwada received a paltry package which he would rather forget about. The breadwinner and father of five’s troubles mounted as he stared unemployment in the face in a country where finding a job is tantamount to looking for a needle in a haystack.
Even his cutting and designing certificate became a worthless piece of paper just like many other certificates or degrees possessed by countryfolk who are also feeling the full squeeze of Zimbabwe’s tanking economy.
Mukwada had no choice, but to relocate from Mutare city’s Sakubva high-density suburb to his poverty-stricken rural home in ward 29, Nyamarira in Marange.
While in Marange, he endured a life of pain as he scrounged for survival to avert starvation by continuing his tailoring at home and doing menial jobs.
But, finally luck paid him a visit in 2021, when he was employed by the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) at its sewing factory that is part of the company’s social responsibility programme.
Through hard work, discipline and his vast knowledge in sewing, Mukwada has become the champion of his 16 full-time co-workers.
“For me it has been a long road. But, so far, so good. I am happy to be employed here. Everything is going on well considering the fact that at least I have something to put on the table for my family,” Mukwada said in an interview on the sidelines of a media tour of Chiadzwa Diamond Mine in Marange recently.
The media tour was organised by ZCDC in conjunction with the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists to help the media informatively and responsibly report on diamond mining.
“This sewing factory has changed my life in a big way. I had lost all hope, but now I am happy that I have a job here and I am able to feed my family and send my children to school. This is a very important and promising project to all of us here because we are looking forward to the company improving and doing more for our welfare,” he said.
Another tailor, Media Muyangwa said: "This sewing factory has changed our lives as a family. I am managing the basics required to sustain a life. I have been an unemployed member of this community, but I am happy to be employed here because I am now able to look after my family and others out there in the community."
The factory supervisor, Judith Bvumbi, said they were mainly into production of the company’s protective clothing and branding material.
“We are into sewing protective clothing for our employees. We also do uniforms and worksuits for the company. We also source for school uniforms around the community,” she said, noting that at full capacity, the factory produces 40 shirts and 30 pairs of worksuits per day.
“We have different machines that we use here that include embroidery, jet, overlocking, elasticity and focusing among others. We also do the branding of logos. For example, we do the branding of logos for our (Premier Soccer League) team, Manica Diamonds FC, among others,” said Bvumbi.
The factory, which was commissioned in 2018, produces ZCDC regalia and uniforms for sale to various schools in the community.
ZCDC spokesperson Sugar Chagonda said the Chiadzwa sewing factory had enabled community members to sustain their livelihoods beyond the lifespan of the diamond mine.
“ZCDC has trained 119 beneficiaries who are already benefiting from the sewing project that is manufacturing garments, school uniforms and regalia for the ZCDC, among others,” Chagonda said.
He said ZCDC invested US$105 000 in the factory.
“As a company, we are happy with this approach which is certainly bearing fruit. We are happy with the approach as we make sure communities benefit from these projects.
“Corporate social responsibility forms part of our main strategic pillars as an organisation. ZCDC holds in high regard the balance between community, nation and corporate stakeholder interests in the execution of its business,” he added.