A revealing article in the Southern Eye last week told us 30 small to medium-scale Gwanda entrepreneurs may soon be forced out of business following rental hikes of up to 100% at a business complex that was recently bought by a company owned by Transport minister Obert Mpofu.
Mpofu’s company, Trebo & Khays, which recently acquired the Forbes and Thompson complex in Gwanda, made the increase this month forcing some of the businesses to relocate. Some rentals have gone up from US$500 to US$2 500. Tenants accused Mpofu of profiteering.
‘Obviously, you do not expect an increase of that magnitude, especially from Mpofu whose party forced local authorities to write off debts owed by ratepayers by blaming sanctions for the current depressed economy,” one tenant said. “Zanu PF has been calling for black economic empowerment, but this is unachievable if we have property owners of Mpofu’s mentality.”
Tenants should have been given three months’ notices, they said.
“We know the person responsible for all this and it’s sad that leaders we elected to represent us are now giving us problems.”
South African demagogue Julius Malema has been doing his best to stir up racial tensions as part of his contribution to next year’s elections. Freedom Front Plus (FF+) — a largely Afrikaans party — has accused Malema of demonising minorities.
“Malema’s false statements that everything white people possess had been stolen is accepted as a fact or truth by poor and frustrated people and in so doing he polarises communities on the basis of race,” FF+ leader Albert Alberts said after the launch of Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters party.
Malema denies his party is racist. But Alberts said his remarks were creating an environment for racial violence. He should direct his comments at the African National Congress (ANC), Alberts said.
Another newcomer to the South African scene, Mamphela Ramphele, has spoken out against populism. Her partner in the 1970s was Steve Biko.
She has since then risen through the ranks of business to become one of the richest people in South Africa.
Her party, Agape, is seen as a threat to the ANC and the Democratic Alliance.
Word of advice
On the subject of rich people, Pepkor and Shoprite boss Christo Wiese has been making some trenchant comments about South Africa.
“Mindless red tape, bureaucratic incompetence and corruption used to make doing business in Africa north of the Limpopo a joke,” he told the Sunday Times last weekend.
Now it is at least as bad in South Africa, he says. Meanwhile, it is getting easier to do business in the rest of Africa, he says.
“Infrastructure is improving, border crossings are getting easier, more property development is taking place and in some cases they are offering more opportunities.”
He speaks of a welcoming attitude elsewhere in Africa and leaders who are pro-business. This contrasts with South Africa where government is certainly not co-operative.
“One is left with the impression that government sees business as the opposition. The red tape drives one mad,” he says. “They are just not listening.”
“Alienating business is not the best way of encouraging investment,” Wiese says. “A combination of ill-conceived policies and bureaucratic incompetence has resulted in South Africa becoming so tied up in red tape that it’s laughable. In Rwanda, anybody can open a business online within 36 hours.”
Congrats, but …
Congratulations to the journalists who have recently been promoted at Zimpapers. We wish them well.
But where did they get that terrible picture of our old friend and colleague Joram Nyathi who has been appointed Group Political Editor at the state stable?
With all their enormous resources and boasts of being “Zimbabwe’s leading daily newspaper” you would have thought they could have found something a tad more pre-possessing than that!
News this week that a pay dispute has delayed opening of the “US$22 million National Social Security Authority-owned hotel” at Beitbridge from July 2013 to December set little bells ringing on Muckraker’s desk.
Something smelt fishy in the Matabeleland South border town with South Africa. This wasn’t the first time massive delays have occurred on this reportedly prestigious project?
We journalists used to scream for “the files!” in checking these worrying little sixth sense memories.
But nowadays, it’s the dependable computer search engine. So, it was over to Dr Google and Professor Yahoo and, sure enough, there online was an article in our sister paper the Standard, by travel writer Dusty Miller, reporting that an outbreak of cholera among the artisans had caused work to finish early for Christmas on the site.
And that story was dated December 18, 2008. Almost five years ago!
But not to worry because in Harare, Lewis Chasakara, then operations director and spokesperson for Rainbow Tourism Group, who were due to manage the then US$12 million hotel (where did the other US$10 million go?) said that he was confident that the hospitality establishment would be up and running in very good time to cater for the heavy demand foreseen for 2 000 overspill rooms Zimbabwe needed to have ready for the soccer World Cup in South Africa!
Dafter and dafter: remember the World Cup? June 11-July 11 2010! We’re almost round to the next one … in Brazil!
In a later article, our intrepid reporter queried who would be likely to sleep in a hotel in Beitbridge, planning to watch a soccer match in perhaps Pretoria, Polokwane, Nelspruit or Rustenburg (the nearest venues to Zimbabwe) when it could take up to seven hours for travellers to fight their way through customs and immigration on both sides of the Limpopo?
At the time, and we had our ears to the ground, we could trace no record of any World Cup soccer fans actually spending a single night in any of the 2 000 Zimbabwean rooms on standby for overspill before, during or after the feast of football.
But, gratifyingly, we did hear of 137 Mexicans chartering a flight to Victoria Falls for a seven-hour excursion bought and paid for in Johannesburg.
They probably spent the equivalent of 300 Mexican pesos in Zimbabwe. Another great victory for the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority!