Mavima charts NRZ survival path

The Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development Joram Gumbo (left) tours NRZ workshops in Bulawayo last week. Accompanying him (from left) are NRZ acting General Manager Lewis Mukwada, board chair Larry Mavima and the Public Relations Manager Fanuel Masikati

The Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development Joram Gumbo (left) tours NRZ workshops in Bulawayo last week. Accompanying him (from left) are NRZ acting General Manager Lewis Mukwada, board chair Larry Mavima and the Public Relations Manager Fanuel Masikati

Business Editor
NEWLY appointed National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) board chair, Larry Mavima, says the parastatal needs to explore new business approaches to survive the difficult economic environment and remain viable.

It is not all gloomy for NRZ, says Mavima who joined the troubled entity last week.

“I’m not a railway man but a businessman. NRZ is a massive organisation and it’s sad to see it in this state. It has the largest workshop south of the Sahara. This gives one the drive to work. We need to fix the economy and have this entity running,” he said in an interview.

The Zvishavane-born businessman has conducted a familiarisation tour of the company’s headquarters and its giant mechanical workshop in the city, arguably the biggest in sub-Saharan Arica.

The quality of work and the repairs done at the NRZ workshop “shows technical expertise is still there,” he said adding: “What we need is capital and let management do the work than interfere with them.”

The company needs an estimated $400 to $700 million to regain its footing. The bulk of the amount is needed to repair the dilapidated railway infrastructure, procurement of locomotives and wagons.

NRZ is also battling legacy debts to different creditors including workers who are owed more than a year’s salary.

Mavima admitted the challenges bedevilling the economy have resulted in loss of traditional clients such as Ziscosteel and several mining firms who have either scaled down operations or shut down.

He, however, expressed optimism insisting the firm could be successfully turned around through restructuring its business model and seeking new clients.

“We need to find other clients, perhaps on the transit route in goods that are passing through Zimbabwe. We also need to offer repair services of wagons for other countries at our workshop,” said Mavima.

Without giving specific timelines, Mavima said his team would seek to craft a funding strategy for NRZ that, once in place, would revamp the company and ensure Bulawayo rises again.

“This is a perfect opportunity to revive industry in this city. With the existing team here and what I’ve seen at the workshop we all want to deliver and as management and board we’ll sit down and evaluate proposals and get the best that will give us a quick turnaround,” he said. “Naturally, we’ll not get results overnight but we need to be seen working. This is a new year and a new beginning. By the end of the year a lot of work will be done and employment of our people should be preserved.”

Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister, Joram Gumbo, last week said the government was engaged in talks with potential investors keen to bail out NRZ but would not be drawn to disclose the details.

The previous board had pinned hopes on talks with the Development Bank of Southern Africa over an estimated $450 million package, which appears to have fallen by the wayside with the departure of former board chairman, Alvord Mabena.

NRZ is a strategic entity in the economy with the potential to employ up to 18,000 people but currently has about 5,000.


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  • Abel Ntakana

    They all look nice in their hard hats and white dust coats, signs of success. We have seen these political appointees come and go but leaving nothing to show for their legacy except a string of poor results. Now there is talk of purchase of new wagons whilst NRZ has always been known to have a surplus of these. The problem is that a lot of rolling stock was corruptly sold as scrap metal over the last 10 years. What a shame. Nothing good will come out of this. Even with $10 billion dollars in funding nothing will come out of this as long as political CVs and nepotism are used to employ unqualified people for top management positions.

    • 3 Down

      I think that it makes sense that when you have a car you need a good road to drive it on. The NRZ’s first priority would be to upgrade the main routes. Unfortunately because of incompetence and failure to pay and retain professionals the best of out Permanent way staff are now working in Liberia where that railways is taking off. There are some of our Locomotive drivers there as well. Just like S.A.R took many of our people. It is no secret amongst Railway people that the former railway authorities prior to Independence left enough reserve permanent way material to last our Railways for at least 25 years. It is also no secret that most of this was looted and sold to Railway companies in neighbouring countries like Zambia. It is also true as you say that rail wagons were scrapped. Passenger coaches that were sent to prop up the DRC during that war never returned. I don’t believe this man will turn the Railways around. We wait and see.

  • bob@100

    how about moving the headquarters of the railways to the midlands,that way the chair,mavima famed for introducing flea markets could fast unbundle the railways into small flea markets and employ the millions of jobless in the midlands

  • Ndaneta

    More lies whilst workers suffer what astonishes me is nobody is talking about what the workers are eating as of now………By the time you revive it would they be still alive? Talk of flying to china to find a snake bite antidote…….by the time you will be back the victim will be long dead!

  • Ndaneta

    This govt only cares about paying civil servants , as long as they are getting paid the rest of the nation can go to hell… How do you explain giving someone with a family $150 after two and half months? No transport no what and you want him at work daily?

  • Top S’gelekeqe

    Just do away with tribalism; everything will fall into place and the NRZ will be back on its feet. Professionalism should be the guiding light!

  • Jay Mageba1

    The Flea Market man is wasting his time…. He is in for looting as others

  • Membathisi

    Honestly, l see the entire railway complex degenerate into a multiplicity of flea-market stalls by and by.The entire set up is just but a recipe for mediocre ideas of pavement business practices.This is the begining of the total collapse of what was remaining of NRZ.