Senior Business Reporter
Local companies last week dug deep into their purses to support victims of Cyclone Idai, which took a heavy toll on lives and property particularly in Manicaland province, by donating goods and services worth millions of dollars, in a strong demonstration of patriotism and unity.
Construction companies provided graders, bulldozers, tippers, front-end loaders, among a host of earth-moving equipment.
They also provided tents, water, food and other consumables that were desperately needed in the affected communities.
Government — which is currently confronted by competing demands, especially in an economy that is just beginning to recover — has called for support from well-wishers to assist affected communities.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE), South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, China and Tanzania, among others, have since extended support to Cyclone Idai victims.
Market watchers say the intervention by local companies, which are already under pressure from foreign currency shortages, is an indication of their commitment to the national cause.
Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed companies such as Dairibord Zimbabwe Limited, ZB Holdings, Simbisa Brands, Econet, Delta and Lafarge, together with public entities such as TelOne and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra), among others, have also weighed in.
Former Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) president Mr Davison Norupiri told The Sunday Mail Business that the outpouring of support from companies shows their commitment to communities in which they operate.
“What it basically means is that the companies are prepared to support Government initiatives to turnaround the economy, and also to stand with the Government when there are challenges facing the country and Government,” said Mr Norupiri.
“To me, it’s a sign of oneness, it’s a sign of unity, which I really commend and I pray that this must not only be for disasters, but it has to be an all-weather relationship between Government and business.
“So we are very happy and I think the game has just changed; people have realised that for us to progress, we really need to be united and people have united to fight a worthy cause, and I strongly believe they are also uniting to fight the challenges facing our economy.”
When people put their heads together, he added, “it’s a very good sign” of good things to come, and critically, “it’s also a very strong message to the President (Emmerson Mnangagwa) that you are not on your own”.
Economist Mr Persistence Gwanyanya said companies were committed to “squeeze the little they have to assist”.
“It’s commendable that the community realises that it cannot wait for Government to do everything, especially when they know the fiscal constraints of the latter. This is what is called good corporate social responsibility.
“But it doesn’t say the Government should relax. There is clearly need for Government to rethink its preparedness with regards natural disasters such as Cyclone Idai. Whilst disasters are rare and infrequent occurrences, Government should always be prepared for them because we don’t know when they will visit us,” said Mr Gwanyanya.
President Mnangagwa also paid tribute to foreign governments, organisations and citizens whose “deep sense of compassion has moved them to stand by us in this hour of great national grief and need”.
Companies support for victims
Dairibord Zimbabwe Limited (DZL) donated goods worth RTGS$62 000, which include Pfuko-Udiwo maheu, steri milk, loose tea, lacto (milk) and blankets.
DZL corporate affairs manager Mrs Imelda Shoko said donations by organisations and fellow Zimbabweans are “a noble thing to do and something that we must currently be preoccupied with”.
“Lending a hand enables the affected people to quickly get back on their feet and move on with life,” said Mrs Shoko.
TelOne’s head of corporate communications and client experience Mrs Melody Harry said they have donated medicines, basic food stuffs and 500 blankets worth RTGS$100 000.
The firm also opened all 152 exchanges and TelOne shops countrywide to receive donations from well-wishers, which would be transported to Harare for sorting before dispatching to Manicaland.
It has also offered free toll lines for donations, individuals in distress and volunteers.
Further, the fixed telecommunications company has allocated two Mahindra 4X4 trucks to the Civil Protection Unit (CPU), while two 8-tonne trucks have been committed for the transportation of donated goods.
Nyaradzo Funeral Services is offering decent burials to the deceased while EcoSure has set up a fund to provide free funeral cover to families of the cyclone.
ZB Bank donated goods worth RTGS$60 000, while Simbisa has provided cooking oil, mealie-meal, dried foods, flour and bread to the victims and is putting up a relief fund to deal with the long-term effects of the cyclone.
Cement manufacturer Lafarge has pledged to supply the “full cement requirements” for identified projects targeting schools, roads, homes and clinics. Stanbic Bank also chipped in with RTGS$250 000 and provided tents that accommodate over 700 people, among other goodies.