THE year 2019 started on a bad note caused by exchange rate pressures as the Zimbabwe dollar value tumbled against major currencies. Minister of Finance Professor Mthuli Ncube floated the Zim dollar in February, resulting in the abandoning of the 1:1 parity of the RTGS dollar against the US dollar. Our Business correspondent, Liberty Dube, takes us down memory lane on highlights of Manicaland business stories of 2019.
Belarus firm takes over riverbed gold mining
In a major development, a Belarus mining company expressed interest to sustainably mine alluvial gold along the Pungwe and Rusitu riverbeds in an effort to regularise illegal mining activities by gold panners that have contributed to significant pollution of both rivers.
The pollution of the two rivers has been a cause for concern for both Zimbabwean and Mozambican authorities as it has had negative impacts on the lives of villagers and wildlife in both Manica and Manicaland provinces.
Hotspeck lands lucrative deal
Hotspeck, a subsidiary of the Rural Electrification Fund (REF), secured a pole treatment deal with a Mozambican company that will be instrumental in generating foreign currency and increasing utilisation of the firm’s state-of-the-art pole treatment plant in Mutare.
The deal was expected to see the company treating 18 000 cubic metres of timber from Infloma, a joint venture between the government of Mozambique and a South African company.
Money changers sing the blues
The currency reforms introduced by Treasury and culminated in the scrapping of multi-currency system on local transactions paralysed the black market in Mutare, leaving hundreds of money changers singing the blues.
Black market foreign currency traders would receive US$10 000 and $10 000 everyday to feed the parallel market, but the suppliers abruptly stopped as the rates tumbled significantly.
Delta to establish Chibuku Super plant in Rusape
Manufacturing giant Delta Corporation secured land to establish a multi-million-dollar Chibuku Super plant in Rusape. The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE)-listed concern purchased 10 hectares from Rusape Town Council for the construction a modern manufacturing plant.
The land is in Tsanzaguru, a few kilometres from the Jack Needham waterworks, thereby guaranteeing the reliable supply of water which is a key raw material for opaque beer.
Upon completion, the new plant is expected to employ hundreds of workers, thereby ameliorating the second dispensation’s concerted efforts to create employment for citizens.
Chinese investors visit Mutare Gemmology Centre
Efforts to secure investors for the multimillion-dollar Gemmology Centre in Fern Hill moved a gear up following the visit by a Chinese business delegation to identify areas of co-operation under the Special Economic Zones initiative.
The International Co-operation Centre-National Development and Reform Commission of China (ICC-NDRC) in collaboration with the Alliance of Belt and Road Business Schools (ABRBS) is touring all SEZ projects in Mutare, Victoria Falls, Harare and Bulawayo to identify possible areas of co-operation between Zimbabwean and Chinese businesses.
$20m set aside for irrigation development projects
Close to $20 million was earmarked for irrigation development in the second quarter of 2019 as part of efforts to improve agricultural production in Manicaland, which has significantly been affected by the persistent droughts and the adverse effects of Cyclone Idai, which ravaged the province in March in 2020 this year.
According to the second quarter Provincial Development Programme review report, Government under the inclusive economic growth pillar, prioritised water harnessing, irrigation rehabilitation and development, protection and management of natural resources to ensure economic and environmental sustainability, as a key strategy to economic emancipation.
Eastern Highlands Plantations diversify into macadamia
Eastern Highlands Plantations Limited (EHPL) will invest more than $6 million in a new venture which will see the company replacing 500 hectares of tea crop with macadamia trees.
The initiative is part of a diversification drive that the company embarked on in 2016. EHPL is one of largest tea producers in Zimbabwe with close to 2 000 hectares under the green leaf.
ZCDC hunts for new CEO
The Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company initiated the hunt for a new chief executive officer following the sacking of Dr Moris Bekezela Mpofu earlier in 2019 over reports of a litany of allegations of corruption and abuse of office.
Dr Mpofu was fired along with six other senior executives, namely chief finance officer Mr Charles Gambe, supply chain executive Dr Newton Demba, chief human resources executive Mrs Masciline Chikoore, engineering executive Engineer Andrew Murwisi, audit executive Dr Cleopatra Mutisi and chief security officer Clemence Munoriarwa