Jah Prayzah to Relaunch Album in Mutare

Musician Jah Prayzah is set to relaunch his album at Pick and Save in Mutare on Friday after a lukewarm response to the initial launch in Harare earlier this year. The album "Kumbumura Mhute" has been received with mixed feelings as some described it as below the standard he had set on "Tsviriyo".
Organiser of the event Esau Mupfumi said they have decided to relaunch the album in Mutare.
"I have been working with the musician well and I have decided to have another function relaunching it here in Mutare," said Mupfumi.
He said he has done it upon the people's request in the Eastern Capital.
"People have been requesting to have the album officially launched here in Mutare and we have decided to have the function on Friday," said Mupfumi.
The musician's manageress Filda Muchabaiwa said they were told by Mupfumi that he had organised a launch in Mutare.
"We thought it was done when we launched it here in Harare but Mupfumi said there was need to do another function from that one here. We have not been performing there for some time now and we have managed to come back with the new staff," said Muchabaiwa.
She added that they were happy with response they are getting on their live performances. "People are coming and each time these songs are being played people sing them along which is a positive response," she said.
Recently the Mutare based businessman sponsored the musician with a Mercedes Benz.

CZI Spearheads Zim-Asset Familiarisation Drive

The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries will maintain the drive for private sector familiarisation with Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation with the third workshop to discuss the economic blueprint scheduled to be held in Mutare today. CZI has been spearheading private sector discussions for familiarisation with the economic blue print, Zim-Asset, which will guide Government programmes from 2014-18.

A further workshop will take place at Amber Hotel in Mutare for the people of Manicaland with Minister of Industry and Commerce Mike Bimha set, for the third time, to officially open the event.

Minister of State for Provincial Affairs Manicaland Chris Mushowe and Mayor of Mutare Mr Tatenda Nhamarare were also invited.

"In addition, various business communities and other stakeholders in Manicaland Province are expected to attend the event planned to explore what Zim-Asset is all about," CZI said.

CZI said it is leading discussions on private sector familiarisation with the anchor economic policy. This is being done in a number of ways, including holding of workshops in different areas.

The workshops have been carried out in conjunction with the Office of the President and Cabinet, who are the main drivers of the Zim-Asset 2014-18 programme, and also the two ministries of Industry and Commerce and Finance and Economic Development.

To date, workshops have been held in Harare (February 5, 2014) and Bulawayo (February 20, 2014) and both were officially opened by Industry and Commerce Minister Mike Bimha.

Former Mutare Mayor Brian James Statement on MDC leadership

I have worked actively for the MDC since early 2006 at both Provincial level and in Local Government. The enthusiasm for positive change was electric, exhilarating, filled with hope and frankly a humbling experience to part of.
Events have unfortunately changed, changed to such an extent that what we were fighting for, and indeed made sacrifices to achieve, we have actually enabled to fall through our fingers instead.
I support full now the Renewal concept within the MDC, but at this stage not necessarily any particular individual to take over the reigns. That ideally will be decided at a later date and by the majority of the MDC membership in a properly constituted congress.
It is important in this regard to read the statement issued to the press by the Secretary General, Tendai Biti, at the press conference after his National Council meeting held on Saturday the 26th April, 2014.
During my time in office as Mayor of Mutare, and following my suspension by Min. Chombo, (that was subsequently deemed " illegal and unconstitutional"), it became increasingly evident that not only were we fighting the ZANU PF officials in trying to combat corruption and reinstate the systems of good governance, but also agents within our very own party. This was a devastating realisation for me.
The MDC primary and confirmation processes prior to the July 31st 2013 General Election was yet another indicator to all that our party was not well. Manipulation and imposition of candidates, violence, the continued undermining of the Provincial leadership by members of the Standing Committee and their agents in the province, did nothing to ensure a unified front to compete in the general election itself. It appeared that the focus for many was already on the MDC 2016 congress and individuals' own political careers rather than the crucial national issue of change.
Probably the most distasteful event in my mind was the support given, by the national leadership, to the rebel councilors in Mutare, and other cities, after they had crossed the floor and voted with ZANU PF councilors to place themselves in positions of influence, which basically transferred control of the city from the MDC to ZANU PF. As I was later to discover, the 4 councilors in Mutare had colluded with the highest local government department within the party to rather accommodate ZANU PF than support their own party! Working WITH ZANU PF is inevitable, but working FOR them unacceptable! This was indeed a great betrayal.
The 2 National Council meetings convened to firstly suspend and subsequently expel Elton Mangoma were certainly not democratic or constitutional. Arbitrary suspensions of National Council members were used - and still are - to manipulate the voting structures, and Mangoma was given no chance to explain or defend himself in front of councilors who were expected to vote on his fate in an informed manner. The voting procedure itself left a lot to be desired.
Serious introspection of the Party is required and in my mind the simple request of a renewal process has been deliberately turned into a massive storm. Church mediation that had been initiated and was, I believe, looking promising, was spurned immediately after Mangoma's expulsion.
My support goes with those that will uphold the original MDC Party principles and values.

Mutare Bottling commissions $17mln plant

Mutare Bottling Company has commissioned a new $17 million automated bottling plant that would boost its production by as much as 400 percent, its first major investment since dollarisation in 2009.

The bottler, which holds the Coca-Cola franchise for the Manicaland region, is 63 percent owned by telecommunications group, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe.

Managing director Allen Lang told The Source that the new plant has capacity to produce 30,000 bottles per hour, up from between 6,000 to 10 000 bottles per day.

The new plant has also increased capacity utilisation to ‘optimum’ levels from 35 percent before the commissioning, which was done last week.

Lang said the new plant means the company will move workers from its production department to distribution.

“The new line is more automated than the old lines that are 30 years old that have been replaced. This will result in some production staff being moved from production into distribution,” he said, adding that the company will not retrench.

MBC currently has a total of 323 workers, including 257 full-time employees.

“We will retain all our employees, including contract workers and will even add more due to the increased need in distribution. We have acquired more delivery vehicles and 160 vending units,” Lang said.

- source

Mutare City Council Broke

MUTARE City Council is in the red due to serious financial challenges and will soon embark on various cost-cutting measures to avert a collapse of service delivery.
Early last week Mutare City laidoff close to 200 contract workers citing financial challenges.
Mayor Tatenda Nhamarare blamed residents for not paying their rates as well as the ailing economy which has resulted in the closure of several industries in town.
He said revenue inflows were in shambles with council now operating below capacity.
"The main reason for such a situation is that residents are defaulting paying rates. More so, the closure of industries in Mutare has crippled our revenue base," said Nhemarare.
"We are now relying on the informal sector which comprises of vendors and the flea markets to get revenue."
He said council was also failing to meet statutory obligations to cater for, among others, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) and National Social Security Authority (NSSA) payments.
"We are also in arrears with such institutions and recently ZIMRA was demanding what is due to them," said Nhamarare.
Mutare city used to enjoy better revenue inflows before many industries such as Mutare Board and Paper Mill and Karina textiles closed due to viability challenges.
Some of the industries which closed shop include the timber companies which used to employ thousands of workers.
Nhamarare said the failure by the city to pay its contract and permanent workers was a reflection of poor revenue collections.
He said a settlement was being worked on to pay workers, most of whom were owed seven months salaries and 2012 and 2013 bonuses. The Standard

Mutare, PSMAS in $1m land swap deal

CASH-STRAPPED Mutare City Council last week resolved to settle its more than $1 million debt to Premier Services Medical Aid Society (PSMAS) through a land swap deal as revenue collections in the eastern border town continue to shrink.
The local authority owes its workers salaries for seven months.
Last week, police were called in after some contract workers stormed Civic Centre demanding their dues.
In a full council meeting on Tuesday last week, the council resolved to offset its $1 180 698 debt to PSMAS through a swap of land measuring 18 500 square metres.
Town clerk Obert Muzawazi told the council meeting that at the rate at which they were collecting revenue, the local authority would not be able to settle the debt hence the proposal for a land swap.
He said PSMAS was agreeable to the land swap deal.
The local authority said the move was the only solution to the difficult financial situation.
“In line with the litigation that council has with PSMAS for an outstanding fee for services rendered to its employees, the parties came up with an out-of-court settlement wherein the council offered land namely sub-division A of stand 7212 of Mutare Township, subdivision B of stand 7212 Mutare Township, subdivision C of stand 7212 Mutare Township,” the council minutes read in part.
“The piece of land measures in total 18 500 square metres.
“This is in full and final settlement of the debt of $1 180 698 owed by council to PSMAS.”  Manica Post

Furore over Mupfumi's takeover of Meikles Park

MUTARE - At least 600 informal traders are set to be relocated from Mutare’s Meikles Park to a yet to be identified area after the city council reportedly leased the park to a private operator.

The informal traders were distraught on Wednesday after learning that the place had been allocated to Zanu PF central committee member and Mutare business mogul Isau Mupfumi under a four-year lease .

Munyaradzi Mubande, an informal trader at the busy Meikles Park situated in the Central Business District, said he was unhappy after the local authority and central government reached an agreement to lease the area to a private individual without their knowledge.

“This is unfair to the informal traders who have not been given a chance to agree on the lease on their own despite the indigenisation drive,” fumed Mubande, who spoke on behalf of the informal traders who sell clothing among other wares.

“We should at least have been informed in time that the land has been earmarked for such a development. Where are we going to do business as it stands?”

He said the general feeling among the informal traders was that there was a bigger story behind their ejection from Meikles Park.

“We suspect sinister motives on this said development,” he said.

George Gaura, another informal trader at the Park, said allowing one individual to benefit from the place would be undermining empowerment.

“Empowerment has to be for all deserving citizens and not one person to fatten their wallets and purses. As Zimbabweans, such a move has to be challenged,” said Gaura, who runs a table that sells clothing and footwear at the park.

Mutare mayor councilor Tatenda Nhamarare said he had received the news through the rumour mill and was yet to get all the facts about the deal.

“I need time to get the papers concerning the lease of the Meikles Park and get the correct positions as of now I do not have an authoritative comment over it,” Nhamarare told the Daily News.

Mupfumi said as far as he knows, the place had been put up for sale for a long time and he had expressed interest in it.

“There was an offer for sale and I have openly declared an interest to develop it; that is the position,” Mupfumi said without elaborating.

But informal trader Mandy Kashiri said she wants the council or whoever is behind the sale to have it reversed as it is not in the best interest of the people.

“The majority of people operating at the Meikles Park are jobless and for it to be sold to one person is gross injustice. We do not know where we will end up,” she said.

Kashiri said the informal traders were each paying council $1 a day and they were unsure if the new owner would still continue to charge the nominal fee.

Officials close to the deal told the Daily News that there were also plans to relocate offices of the Manicaland Publicity Association where tourists and other travellers get information on destinations around the province and Zimbabwe in general.

An official at the offices confirmed that they had been advised that their days were numbered at the offices, situated in the park.

Mutare Shelves Plans to Destroy Illegal Structures

CITY authorities in Mutare have temporarily shelved their plans to demolish hundreds of illegal structures that have been mushrooming in the border city's high density suburbs and the CBD. The demolitions were targeted at tuckshops and some buildings illegally constructed on undesignated areas.
Before the new development, the local authority had informed residents of its plans to destroy illegal structures. Mutare mayor, Tatenda Nhemarare confirmed the local authority has decided to shelve its plans for now while they sought alternative places to accommodate the affected families.
"We have halted the exercise as the local authority is trying to locate alternative areas for the residents to carry out their operations," said Nhemarare. The local authority's decision could also be associated with a petition from United Mutare Residents and Ratepayers Association (UMRRA) asking city fathers to first consider the humanitarian element to their unpopular decision, before the demolitions.
UMRRA Executive Director, Dr Sebastian Bakare, confirmed his association had written a petition against the demolitions and thanked the council for heeding to their call. "We wrote a petition to the council and they heeded our call. The petition was purely on humanitarian grounds," said Bakare.
UMRRF had argued that proceeding with the exercise was going to severely disadvantage poor residents in Mutare. "It is our view that the owners of these illegal structures are innocent residents who are trying to eke out a decent living through honest means," said Bakare.
"Unemployment rate is around 90 percent. We kindly ask you to provide alternative designated working areas in consultation with them before demolition." Due to economic hardships and job scarcity, residents have resorted to constructing tuckshops and salons in their backyards to raise funds to survive.

Mutare Residents Seek to Raise U.S $250k for Flood Victims

TOUCHED by the plight of the Tokwe-Mukosi flooding victims, a group of Mutare residents will next month embark on a sponsored walk through three of the country's surrounding provinces hoping to raise $250 000 for the troubled villagers.
The residents will do the walk under the leadership of their local civic group, Combined Mutare and Residents and Ratepayers Trust (CMRRT) on May 21.
CMRRT programmes manager, David Mukunda, told New Zimbabwe.com weekend the walk will start from their Mutare base to Masvingo, proceeding through Harare and ending in Mashonaland East province.
"We intend to raise $250 000 to buy blankets, food, medicals, just to mention a few, to assist the victims," said Mukunda, adding that it was their responsibility as civil organisations to help needy fellow citizens.
"It's our duty to see that rights of citizens are protected in this time of need. Access to shelter, water, food and medical is a basic human right for all," said Mukunda.
He said they have since met Manicaland provincial administrator, Fungai Mbetsa and Mutare District Administrator, Cosmas Chiringa to discuss how they intend to raise the donations.
He encouraged other civil organisations, Non-Governmental Organisations and churches to come forward with donations to assist the victims.
Mukunda further said the sponsored walk has been sanctioned by police under the Public Order Security Act.
Over 3,000 families that had been staying in the flood prone Tokwe-Mukosi area were left homeless early February when incessant rains in Masvingo province caused the flooding of the man-made dam whose wall partially collapsed under increased pressure.
The resultant flooding saw homes, crops and property washed away and causing a huge disaster that saw government move to relocate the villagers to Chingwizi holding camp where they await being allocated plots to build new homes.
But their stay at the transit camp has not been rosy as they have experienced overcrowding and hunger and have survived through the benevolence of government agencies and humanitarian organisations.

The RUNN Family is Back

Last Tuesday saw the launch of Peter Muparutsa's album entitled "Echo of a Child's Anthem". The CD was launched at Harare's Book Café. Peter was backed by the RUNN Family band. The launch ceremony kicked off with a speech from Victor Muparutsa, the present Runn Family keyboards player who said he was too young to remember the history of the band but was glad to be part of this celebrated group.
This was followed by a two-song performance featuring Peter Muparutsa on vocals and bass which was being complemented by another bass player known as Beven, Blessing Muparutsa (of Dudu Manhenga's Color Blu) on drums, Jerry Muparutsa on guitar and Victor Muparutsa on keyboards.
They started off with a familiar song, "Hatichina Wekutamba Naye" and the crowd immediately went ecstatic.
Even those young musicians present such as Ray Mupfumira, Tino Manyowa and Hector Mugani who were witnessing a live performance by the Runn Family for the first time, admitted that they were mesmerised. After the second song, the band took a short break to allow for the auctioning of the CD before delving into three more songs from the new album.
This time, they made sure that one of their engineers and producers, although not a Muparutsa, was also on stage to play the part he had played during the album production.
This was none other than Clive "Mono" Mukundu who did justice to the guitar besides being interrupted by a malfunctioning amplifier from the Book Cafe. The three songs in the performance included the album title song,"Echo of A Child's Anthem" and "Chihera Changu" which Peter said was a song dedicated to his wife who was in the audience.
Indeed, as soon as Peter strummed the first note to that tune, his wife, together with their daughter, were up on the dance floor.
After the live performance, a second album auction took place and Sulu Chimbetu in support of fellow musician, emerged as the highest bidder for the CD which showed off Peter Muparutsa's four other tracks, "Tange Nhamo", "Ndichauya Nenhoro", "Huru Inokudzwa Newayo" and "Kungoti Pote".
At 7 pm on the dot, the album launch was over. Everyone present was impressed. In the audience were veteran musicians such as Friday Mbirimi, William Kashiri, Clancy Mbirimi, Cuthbert Maziwa, Sandra Mashiringo aka Queen Mashie (Andy Brown's sister), Sulumani Chimbetu, Somandla Ndebele, Paul Brickhill, Andrew Mamvura of Ethnic Posse, Jimmy Buzuzi of Winky D's Vigilance Band, Sister Flame, Kelly Rusike, Mono Mukundu and many others.
After the album launch, Friday Mbirimi who was obviously impressed by the performance when asked to comment about the show had this to say:
"The latest offering by Peter Muparutsa and the Runn Family keeps the creative fires burning in this gifted family, and is another lively offering with something for everyone! Like I said before, Zimbabwe is loaded with talent. However, the youngsters ought to listen to Peter Muparutsa to appreciate what good singing is, and what dedication does to one's delivery.
"He transported me to heaven for a while. This is song delivery as it ought to be. If music institutions had such teachers we would have a more successful music industry."
Since their emergence in 1978, the Runn Family has taken some strange turns. Among the accolades and commercial success from the release of hits such as "Hatichina Wekutamba Naye", "Gumbo Mumba", "Moyo Muti", "Inhapitapi Chete" "Let The African Children Play On" and "Ishe Komborerayi", the band which faded out in the late 1990s has never been forgotten..
The Runn (Real Unique Natural Notion) Family Band was formed in Mutare with inspiration from one Enock Muparutsa who was a member of a Mutare pop group, The All Blacks Combo. Among the founder members of the Runn Family were Peter himself (bass and vocals), Bothwell Nyamhondera (drums) Jerry Muparutsa (lead guitar) and the late Alois Muyaruka (rhythm guitar). Afterwards the band comprised mostly members of the Muparutsa family with Jerry Muparutsa on guitar, Mike Muparutsa on keyboards, Peter Muparutsa on bass and vocals, Fortune Muparutsa on vocals, Tendai Muparutsa on vocals and Lawrence Muparutsa on drums as the band's main members.
The only two outsiders, Godfrey and John Mkwananzi, who were twin brothers, joined the band much later but left in 1990.
I often accused the band of nepotism and insider dealing as it only allowed members of the Muparutsa family to participate. Most of the Runn Family's live performances were done in Mutare until 1981 when they were persuaded by Steve Roskilly of Shed Studios, their recording company, to perform in Harare in order to promote record sales. They later broke away from Shed to join Gramma Records in 1986. The switch saw the group immediately releasing the hit single "Hatichina Wekutamba Naye", a song dedicated to the late Mozambican president, Samora Machel.
This song put them on the map. Stephen "Dhongi" Makoni, a musician cum comedian would always take the mickey out of Peter Muparutsa by remarking: "Haaa! Tibvirei apa! Mune zera na Samora here kana muchiti hatichina wekutamba naye?' (Get away! Are you of the same age with Samora to want to play with him?), whenever Peter sang this song.
The single, which commemorated the death of Samora Machel received massive response from the public. In 1987 the band released "Moyo Muti", another massive hit and this was followed by a song for President Mugabe's inauguration simply entitled "Ishe Komborera President Mugabe". In 1988 the Runn Family were part of a national symposium on Child Survival and Development and one of their songs was adopted as the theme song for the Child Survival concerts which followed.
In 1988 they won the Local Pop Band contest, and their drummer, Lawrence Muparutsa was voted the best drummer while Peter Muparutsa was voted the best vocalist. Going by what I witnessed during the CD launch, he is still Zimbabwe's best vocalist.
Releases such as "Nhapitapi Chete" (which was later used in advertising a local bread spread, Sun Jam), and "You are My Everything", became classical hits for the band although they received very little promotion. Many people identified the group with the song "Nhapitapi Chete".
The Runn Family shared the stage with well known artistes such as Misty in Roots, Jimmy Cliff, Harry Belafonte, Manu Dibango, Miriam Makeba, Maxi Priest and Princess when these artistes came to perform in Zimbabwe.
As members had predicted of splits before leaving Mutare in 1990 Fortune Muparutsa left the band for a solo career while Peter Muparutsa, the lead singer and bass player left after taking on a full-time job as a producer at Gramma Records' Mosi-oa-Tunya Studios, and later Records and Tape Promotions (RTP.).
This move explains Peter's 15 years of absence from live performances. Among the artistes that he produced are Oliver Mutukudzi, John Chibadura, Thomas Mapfumo, Leonard Dembo, Talking Drum, James Chimombe, llanga, Zig Zag Band, Charles Charamba, Mechanic Manyeruke and his very own daughter-in-law Dudu Manhenga. Undaunted the rest of the Muparutsa family went back to Mutare where they continued to play together without the powerful voice of Peter.
The group now comprised Jerry Muparutsa, Michael Muparutsa (keyboards), the late Lawrence "Chamu" Muparutsa (drums), Alex Muparutsa (vocals, trumpet) Tendai "Edison" Muparutsa (vocals), Golden Muparutsa (bass) and the Mukhwananzi twins (background vocals).
Tendai eventually left and joined another group known as Assegai Crew which also trekked to Harare where they were contracted to play at the George Hotel in Avondale. Tendai Muparutsa and Lawrence Muparutsa later passed on.
Fortune Muparutsa, who was now based in England, also died in mysterious circumstances in 2008.
Born on March 13 1959, Peter Muparutsa can safely be referred to as one of the pioneers of Zimbabwe's contemporary music in the 1970's.
Alongside many local festivals and special performances, Peter Muparutsa also performed at many regional and international events, including a European Tour in 1995, Germany and Holland in 1996; Women in Arts Festival, Johannesburg in 2007, and the Arts Alive Festival in Johannesburg.

Sex-Starved Guard Up for Raping Mentally Ill Victim

A SEX starved security, who was guarding the Provincial Medical Director's Offices in Mutare weekend, was arrested after being caught red-handed while having unprotected sex with a 40-year-old mentally challenged woman.
It is reported that Kudakwashe Matapure, 26, of Chikanga Phase 2 in the border city, was on duty Saturday night when he saw the complainant loitering near the premises. He lured the woman into the premises where he allegedly raped her once.
Police spokesperson, Assistant Inspector Luxon Chananda, confirmed the incident. Chananda said on the day in question, a passer-by and now witness in the criminal case, reports having heard some strange noises coming from the premises.
His suspicions were confirmed when he quickly informed one Simbarashe Nyatondo, a motor mechanic at the premises, who was not very far from the place. The two immediately visited the premises where they found Matapauke allegedly forcing himself on the woman.
A report was made at Sakubva police station leading to Matapauke's arrest. The complainant was taken to Mutare Provincial hospital for medical examination. "At the moment, the complainant cannot narrate what really transpired on the day in question because of her mental status," said Chananda.
He said it was a serious offence to take advantage of the mentally challenged in the society.

32 Held for Smuggling Clothes From Mozambique

POLICE in Mutare have arrested 32 Zimbabweans who were caught trying to smuggle 100 bales of second hand clothing worth over $100,000 from neighbouring Mozambique.
The contraband, police say, was destined for resale in various flea markets and second hand clothes shops across the country.
The smugglers were arrested Thursday midnight at a tollgate outside the city after police detectives received a tip off from whistle blowers.
Manicaland police spokesperson, Assistant Inspector Luxon Chananda, confirmed that 32 people, who were travelling on different transport, were arrested at the tollgates outside the city. Of the 32 suspects, two were men.
"The bales were destined to different markets such as Harare and Gweru and Bulawayo," said Chananda.
He said a Trip Trans bus travelling to Harare was stopped and searched by police details along Harare-Mutare road and 15 bales of second hand goods were recovered.
A Zupco bus travelling to Gweru was also searched and police officers discovered 18 bales that were stashed in boots and under seats.
A Toyota vehicle travelling to Harare was also caught with four huge bags stashed with second hand clothes and all the passengers aboard were arrested.
Police also had to give chase to a Toyota Noah which made an abrupt U-turn near the tollgate but had a tyre burst, leading to the arrest of its occupants.
The vehicle had 22 bales inside.
All the accused are facing charges of smuggling.
Smuggling is a rampant vice in the porous Zimbabwe-Mozambique border with state security agents patrolling the border also having been fingered in the smuggling deals.

Bhadella Wholesalers closes shop

One of Mutare’s leading and oldest wholesalers — Bhadella Wholesalers —which has been operating in the eastern border city for more than eight decades has closed shop, amid a lot of controversy and speculation.

Bhadella Wholesalers closed shop last week after eight decades of operation. The closure affected 130 workers and a number of small-scale operators who were getting their supplies from the wholesaler
Bhadella Wholesalers closed shop last week after eight decades of operation. The closure affected 130 workers and a number of small-scale operators who were getting their supplies from the wholesaler

Close to 130 workers — 69 of them permanent employees and the rest on contract — have been thrown on to the streets. When The Manica Post visited the wholesaler on Wednesday morning, traders who had come to buy goods were surprised to see gates into the premises closed.

A security guard manning the entrance turned them away, saying the shop had been closed for business. One of the company’s directors, Mr Tuffy Bhadella, could not say much when he was asked why the 82-year-old business had closed.

“It is best that you talk to our lawyers because they are the ones handling the case. I will not say anything at the moment. The shop is closed and you get the facts and reasons from the lawyers,” he said.

Bhadella’s Harare-based lawyer, Mr Everson Samukange, of Venturas and Samukange Legal Practitioners, said the closure of the company was related to the harsh economic environment obtaining in the country.

“They can’t operate profitably when they are competing with informal traders who are smuggling goods into the country and selling them at give away prices. This has resulted in much of Bhadella’s stock remaining untraded in the shop because people are opting for cheaper items sold outside. So it is no longer viable to operate.”

Mr Samukange said the Bhadella family did not want to close the shop and they tried to source for funds to recapitalise, but the obtaining situation did not guarantee profitability.

“Even if they get the funds, the informal traders will still be there and it will be back to square one,” he said.

Coming to the plight of retrenched workers, Mr Samukange said the issue was being handled professionally and everyone stands to benefit.

“We are addressing that issue very well. Our aim is that every employee will get a package that is in line with the number of years served. We are not going to take into account the issue of dollarisation which happened in 2009. What we are simply going to do is to calculate the number of years served by an employee and calculate that with the current salary they are receiving. It will be a fair deal. Those who are peddling information that is contrary to what I am saying are not telling the truth,” he said.

However, sources conversant with the goings-on at the wholesaler claimed that the closure of the business had to do with family problems rocking the owners as well as viability concerns. They alleged that stark disagreements had emerged between the directors of the company in respect of control and management of finances.

To this end, they said, the wholesaler owed suppliers more than $3 million, while the stock at hand was valued at less than $1 million.

“We had reached a point where suppliers were no longer supplying us with products because we owed them money. At the end of the day we failed to have some products in stock,” said the source.

Workers are also pressing to be paid severance packages which are in tandem with the period they worked for the company. Some of them revealed that they were still negotiating with management to ensure that they were given fair packages.

“I have been working here since my youthful days and I have now grown grey hair. I deserve a better handshake for the services I rendered to this company,” said one of the employees who requested anonymity.

Suppliers were busy loading remaining items that were still in the wholesale for resale elsewhere. Interviewed traders said the closure of the business had a telling effect on retailers who were customers at the wholesaler.

“Since we were young, we knew that there is Bhadella Wholesalers because during the days when we had tuck-shops in high-density suburbs we used to come and buy products here. Now that we have evolved and running big businesses we are still buying from here. This closure pains us and something must be done,” said a trader who chose not to be named. Manica Post