HARARE businessman Alex Mashamhanda says the political torture he endured at the hands of a Zanu PF-linked militia, Chipangano, and some top Zanu PF officials, during the formative stages of his business empire seven years ago has made him stronger.
Since 2012, Mashamhanda was engaged in running battles with ruling party activists, who claimed the businessman, trading as Mashwede, was aligned to the MDC, a tag that was used to bar him from operating a fuel station and a fast-food outlet in Mbare.
“In business, every challenge we met as an organisation, by the time it was all over, we ended up being a lot stronger than what we were before meeting that challenge. When you think it’s the end of the world, probably sometimes it is the beginning of opportunities. The whole idea is don’t give up,” he said.
“When you are literally shedding tears, you end up rejoicing because you learn so much, you get to know people who will help you, whom you will not have known if you had not encountered the challenges because you had no reason to approach them. It makes you seek help, which you could not have looked for if you had no challenges. That help helps you to build new relationships.”
Mashamhanda said he was given all sorts of excuses by government then, all in an effort to block his $1,2 million investment.
“I was told they wanted to extend Matapi Police Station, then they wanted to build flats for police officers and then they said some Lebanese businesspeople were interested in some project there; all sorts of excuses,” he said.
Seven years down the line, Mashamhanda says he is still standing and the service station is now operating, while Chipangano, a creation of Zanu PF factional fights, has died its own natural death.
As part of his company’s corporate social responsibility, Mashamhanda is now assisting council clear and clean a stream close to his business premises.
He is also clearing sewer that was causing a health hazard to residents in the nearby suburbs.
Mashamhanda has also installed traffic lights worth US$9 500 at a road intersection close to the Mashwede Village along High Glen Road.
The joint venture has generated employment to more than 155 people from the surrounding suburbs of Highfield, Glen Norah, Glen View, Budiriro and Mufakose.
Harare town clerk Hosea Chisango said the local authority was pleased to have businesspeople assisting in communities.
“We are open for partnerships and for all sorts of collaborations and we appreciate businesspeople within the city who come up with such initiatives,” Chisango said.