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Mnangagwa ally turns US$22m glass firm into cattle pen

by Staff reporter
11 May 2021 at 16:45hrs | Views
PROMINENT Gweru businessman Douglas Makwande has set himself on a collision course with the Gweru City Council after converting premises of Zimbabwe Glass Holdings (Zimglass) into a cattle pen for his 100 herd.

The businessman, a close ally to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, claims he acquired the premises for US$22 million although this is strongly challenged by his workers.

Urban farming remains an offence in the Gweru and indeed in many cities and towns in the country.

The giant 10-hectare premises located along Bristol Road in Gweru are now used as grazing and a cattle pen for Kwande's cattle, according to media reports.

However, the businessman's decision to turn premises of a lucrative glass making venture into a pen could pass for mockery on government's thrust to reinject life into a comatose industrial sector that has taken a good battering from a sagging economy and the devastating effects of Covid-19 in the recent past.

Kwande bought the firm from the state-run Industrial Development Corporation.

Zimglass, Zimbabwe's sole producer of glass used to export to Malawi and Zambia, churning out 120 tonnes per week and employing 500 workers. It was one of the biggest companies in Gweru run by the state-owned IDC.

Patrick Chirombo a former HR Officer at Zimglass said it was painful to see the giant company sinking further into abyss.

He was not amused with government for giving the company to someone who has no capacity.

Gweru Mayor Josiah Makombe lamented the deal between IDC and Kwande as an economic disaster for Gweru. Zimglass closed shop in 2010.

Makombe said that it is illegal for Kwande to keep cattle in the city and a team of council workers would be dispatched to investigate. He said the grinding mills must be properly licensed for them to operate.

According to local media, Kwande has also set up grinding mills at Zimglass where he is processing Premier maize meal that is sold in his supermarkets.

Kwande acquired the company through his Brainman Investments at a time when the new dispensation under President Mnangagwa promised a quick fix of defunct companies including CSC, Shabani Mashaba Mines and Zisco.

The glass produced by Zimglass was mainly sold to Delta Beverages, African Distillers, Mutare Bottling Company, Straitia Investments, Olivine Industries, Datlabs and E. Snell and Company.

"It is sad for the city and the country that the firm was bought by someone who cannot revive it. Obviously, we needed an investor who comes to create jobs and wealth," said Makombe.

Moses Chikwadzi, a former secretary for the workers' committee said Zimglass remains a strategic company to the country and called for an immediate intervention.

He said that hundreds of workers including some who worked for the company for 30 years walked out of the company empty handed. The understanding was that the workers were going to be paid their benefits from the proceeds of the sale of the company.

"It's painful and l feel like crying. All workers walked out with nothing. We must be paid our benefits from the US$22m that IDC received from Kwande," said Chikwadzi.

Chirombo dismissed the US$22m tag on the company and said there is evidence from lawyers that the company was sold for a song. He said it went for RTGS$22m.

He described the price as peanuts considering that the company has machinery worth millions of dollars.

Kwande is said to have also got the industrial sand claim some 10km outside Gweru. This is where sand used for making glass is obtained but instead of keeping the sand for glass making, this is now being sold to those building houses and moulding bricks.

Source - newzimbabwe

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