Located 7km from Masvingo City along the Bulawayo Highway, is one of the fastest growing mining firms in the province that is into quarry extraction and taking advantage of the construction boom in the country’s oldest town.
Masvingo Brick and Tile PVT Ltd, a mining company which started operations in 1947 has stood the test of time, surviving the harshest economic environment in 2008 that was characterised by high inflation which rose to unimaginative levels.
Instead of falling, the company led by Cliff Mumbengegwi, grew from leaps and bounds, even in the face of adversity.
After the demise of the beef giant, Cold Storage Company (CSC), popular bus company, Tanda Taruva, most small companies followed suit and closed shop as their existence squarely depended on the two companies’ downstream spin-offs.
War experience inspired the businessman
However, Mumbengegwi soldiered on, with his experience in the war of liberation, the army and real estate business helping him to persevere and survive the vagaries of economic meltdown.
Through commitment to deliver, the company has been a leading supplier of quality quarry stones and bricks in the province and beyond since 1947, he said.
He said he took over the quarry mining company in 2005, which initially belonged to a white family sometime after retiring from Property and Real Estate business. He had retired from the army as a Colonel in 1990. Home to 100 employees including office staff, Masvingo Brick and Tile is a US$3 million business venture with the recently installed state of the art quarry crushing plant worth US$500 000.
The company’s present capacity is 25 percent, which is enough to meet demand of quarry and bricks in the province, but plans are underway to increase it to 75 percent once demand increases.
Hopes to leverage on Harare Beitbridge dualisation
With the much awaited Beitbridge- Harare Highway dualisation already in motion Mumbengegwi said the company will soon increase its capacity given that the demand for quarry stones in the province will surge.
“Our capacity utilisation is demand driven and once the dualisation project reaches us, as a province, obviously we will pull our socks as a company. We will raise the bar in terms of our capacity,” said Mumbengegwi.
“The company supplies stones and concrete products with rated capacity of 200 tonnes per hour and the plant can produce different grades of aggregates simultaneously. The aggregates range from 5mm to 40mm ballast,” he said.
He said the company, which remains a cog in the devolution matrix that the new dispensation has enunciated, has the capacity to provide adequate quarry stones for the Beitbridge-Harare Highway dualisation programme as well as other road construction projects.
“We are ready to supply quarry stones for the Beitbridge-Harare dualisation project once it comes to our province. The company is into heavy industry as the plant we use has 500KV while others only use between 250 and 380 volts.”
The company had also recently invested in a US$150 000 worth of brick-making machine with a production capacity of 70 000 bricks per day.
Looking back, Mumbengegwi admitted the terrain to prosperity was rugged as he met insurmountable challenges that saw others calling it quits. He said apart from not being spared by high inflationary environment that became the order of the day in Zimbabwe, the banking sector has not been very supportive for indigenous businesses and he was no exceptional.
“Our industry is heavy and that means it’s capital intensive. Local banks give loans basing on your returns but that is problematic because they do not consider our potential to grow. We would have loved to borrow more and not basing our creditworthiness on the size of production. We need money for expansion but our scope is limited because we cannot access the capital that we need, say for recapitalisation. However, CBZ is helping us and I cannot complain,” he said.
He said the company had no room for substandard job, hence hiring qualified personnel to operate the plant which is predominantly automated. He said there are journeymen who operated the machine and that comprised fitter and turners ,electrical engineers and boiler makers, all qualified with national diplomas from polytechnics.
Coming to the devolution, Mumbengegwi said as a company they were prepared to add value to development, contributing immensely to the province’s Gross Domestic Product.
He was, however, quick to denounce corruption saying, the vice should be nipped in the bud if devolution was to succeed. He said people ought to be disciplined first, shunning corruption at all levels, so that the provincial resources are put to good use with those caught in corrupt activities facing the music.
“I think our main hindrance is corruption and if we nip it in the bud, we can succeed, as a province and as a country. Those who are caught involved in shoddy deals or corrupt activities must be arrested, convicted and sent to jail. ‘We should not have scared cows on corruptions, as this will not take us anywhere as a province especially now when the economy is being devolved,” he said.