Zimbabweans are yet again facing another bleak Christmas as hardships mount in the face of a massive drought and worsening economic crisis.
But Christmas came early for hard-pressed villagers in Jambezi, Hwange district in Matabeleland North province, and Maphisa in Matabeleland South’s Kezi district, courtesy of a leading bread-making company.
Christmas is just a month away, and like most people across the world, many Zimbabweans observe the holiday, making merry with relatives and friends.
But owing to a prolonged economic crisis, the festive season has over the past few years been getting bleaker for the ordinary majority as they continue to face hardships.
Amid such gloom, one of the country’s leading bread-making companies, Innscor Africa Bread Company or Baker’s Inn, donated food hampers to some 150 orphans in the Jambezi and Lupinyu communal areas in Hwange district at the Jambezi Business Centre on Monday.
Head of marketing Douglas Magonya told Studio 7 that the donation, which he said was the first of its kind for the company in the country, marked the launch of its corporate social responsibility programme, adding an additional 150 orphans in Kezi would receive similar hampers.
Magonya said, “We are launching our corporate social responsibility programme as Baker’s Inn … We are giving out food hampers to more than 300 beneficiaries in the two regions as a way of helping address the food shortages there.”
The hampers have a total value of $100,000 and included bags of mealie-meal, flour, beans, cooking oil, beans as well as bathing and washing soap.
Asked why his company had considered the provision of food handouts as foremost in its corporate social responsibility programme in the selected areas, Magonya said the company had decided that food was the most pressing need for the recipients as the areas were prone to drought.
“We consulted with the local leadership and they said a priority for them was addressing the food crisis that they are facing. As a business we felt obliged to come in and assist in that regard. As we move to other areas there is still room to assist in some of the ways that we have identified and our programmes will vary depending on the need of the day.”
Bekezela Tshuma, a Jambezi Business Centre resident who was among those who attended the handover ceremony, said the assistance was timely as the disadvantaged children would have enough to eat during the festive season.
She admitted that most people in the area often face hunger because it is mostly arid and crops are at times also destroyed by animals as the area is close to the Hwange National Park.
Another local, Lufunelusvi Ncube, said most villagers find it difficult to send their children to school because of poverty, adding that their situation is worsened by the fact that most of them are not gainfully employed.
“The thing is that we don’t have any industries around. Our children who will have finished school both those who will have passed and those who will not have done well are not able to go to the towns of Hwange or to Victoria Falls to get jobs; they end up loafing around.
“Our plea is that we have a training centre where our young boys and girls can be taught various vocational skills like carpentry or sewing so that it can help them to get gainful employment.”
Chief executive officer Ngoni Mazango, who also attended the event, said although the current economic environment also has an effect on his company’s sales, it is doing relatively well, hence its decision to give back to the community.
He said in spite of the prevailing hardships, locals should strive to educate their children. He implored business and industry to help the needy.
Local leader Chief Shana thanked the company for the assistance but told Studio 7 that he wished there could have been more beneficiaries as there are too many orphans in his area.
Baker’s Inn employs 2,000 workers countrywide and currently sells over half a million loaves per day.