Source: $2m lifeline for David Whitehead – NewsDay Zimbabwe November 1, 2017
David Whitehead has secured a $2 million facility from a Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) unit as working capital, raising hopes there is light at the end of the tunnel for the once revered textile giant.
BY NUNURAYI JENA /NDAMU SANDU
The facility was secured from the Zimbabwe Asset Management Company, a special purpose vehicle to buy secured bad debt from the banking sector, and has a tenure of 12 months, said judicial manager Knowledge Hofisi.
“The purpose of the facility is to revive the company. Management is doing everything possible to resume operations, ideally in November,” he said.
Hofisi said funds from the facility would be used for critical spares, production materials and other operational expenses.
It is projected that the resumption of operations would create employment and help to pay salaries and wages for workers. This will also raise hopes for creditors that they would eventually be paid their dues. The spinoffs are expected to be felt in the communities in Chegutu and Kadoma.
While the judicial manager is running round the clock to revive operations, over 2 000 former employees have been waiting in vain to get their terminal benefits and pensions.
The former workers, who have been reduced to destitution and are finding it difficult to make ends meet, accuse politicians of experimenting with their lives.
David Whitehead has been under judicial management since 2006. A new investor came on board in 2008 promising to inject millions. By the time the investor exited in 2010, the textile giant had lost more than what was injected.
The hope of thousands of workers, who were dismissed at the height of economic meltdown in the early 2000’s, is wearing thin, as one promise after another went unfulfilled and the stripping of company assets is not helping as workers see it as a sign of the end times.
Former worker Benjani Mwale, who is now a cobbler at Rimuka shopping centre, said the saddest thing is that most of his former colleagues are dying from preventable diseases, as they fail to raise money for medication.
Another former worker Sylvester Chitani, who still insists that he is still an employee since he was not served with termination papers, said the judicial management has failed and his fear is that he will die without getting anything to show for the 40 years of service as a machine operator.
Chitani claims that David Whitehead owes former workers $5m and he is personally owed more than $16 000 in terminal benefits and salary arrears, saying the company should be given to the workers.
These former workers are divided on the way forward with some calling for liquidation of the company, while others think they can run the company better.
Textile Industry secretary-general Norman Mukono said his union has lost faith in the judicial management efforts, but said liquidation would deprive former workers of their benefits, as they will be the last to get a share of all the creditors.
Kadoma MP Fani Phiri said the best way was for the workers to be given the right to run the company and they can get partners to resuscitate the company.
A former worker, who did not want to be named for fear of victimisation said politicians appear to be sympathetic to their plight only towards election years, but soon forget about them once they are re-elected.
David Whitehead has seen a turnover of judicial managers. Before Hofisi, Cecil Madondo and Winsley Militala were thrust in the hot seat, but left before the company could be revived.