By Shingirai Vambe
One of the largest sugar and ethanol producers in Southern Africa, Tongaat Hullets, last week held an inaugural media engagement with local editors and foreign journalists to share the general overview and operations of the company.
Tongaat Huletts Chief Executive Officer, Aiden Mhere told journalists in Harare that, Hippo Valley Estates (HVE) and Triangle Limited contributes a combined 5% to Zimbabwe’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and is one of the country’s largest employers with over 15 000 employees who directly and indirectly impact the livelihoods of approximately 300 000 families and individuals in the sugar value chain.
“I am delighted to confirm that HVE and Triangle contribute immensely to Zimbabwe’s national priorities related to sustaining high economic growth, improved earnings from trade and investment as well as enhanced manufacturing and contribution of value added exports,” Mhere said.
The company is currently farming 24 986 hectares of sugarcane at Triangle, Mwenezana and Hippo Valley estates, whilst 1200 private farmers operate 20 414 hectares supplying cane to HVE and Triangle Mills. Besides the local market, Tongaat is exporting sugar to countries like the United States of America (USA) Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Botswana, Kenya, Sudan and Rwanda and is looking to tap the Chinese market.
Between April 2019 and July 2022, the company sold US$353 million worth of sugar locally and exported US$109 million. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe retained 20% and 25% of these earnings respectively in order to help fund the country’s forex expenditure.
Tongaat also produces ethanol which is being used to blend fuel and in the manufacturing of sanitizers and several pharmaceuticals to mention just a few. The company is also producing electricity 10 percent of which is contributed onto the national grid while also benefitting the local community. The blue chip enterprise is also looking forward to harness carbon dioxide which is currently being imported from china and other countries.
“There is need for financial institutions to partners with HVE and Triangle for a possible expansion and increase in earnings,” added Mhere.
The company’s strong footprint in corporate social responsibility is undeniably evident. It has built 60 houses for police officers in Chiredzi, provide water purification and conveyance system to the local community, directly supports 23 local schools with a total enrolment of 16 000 and have also built 2 hospitals and clinics which cater for over 230 000 patients per annum.
Addressing the invited media practitioners Board Chairman Canaan Dube said, “In a developed and globally integrated economy, the media plays an essential role on the stock market by disseminating critical information to a broader audience and market participants. As a consequence of technological advancement, information from different channels in various forms and shapes is more accessible than ever before and financial news regarding both companies and the stock can easily be acquired.”
“Let me hasten to say that stakeholder engagement is an integral element in our business’s development, designing and implementation of strategies that benefit the country. In view of our high regard for stakeholder engagement, the company developed a stakeholder relationship management policy and this particular breakfast meeting fulfills one of the principles of this policy,” Dube said.
Contrary to the reports previously shared from South Africa on the expression of interest to acquire the South African sugar mills, refinery, animal feed and brands of THL, Dube said, “Regarding the Zimbabwean operations, the business rescue practitioners (BRPs) have confirmed that operations outside of South Africa are not under business rescue and thus not impacted by the business rescue process of the Tongaat Hullets Limited (THL) in South Africa.”
Herald editor, Victoria Ruzvidzo told the host company that the engagement meeting was a milestone achievement between the company, media and the general public as most of the information that was shared during the meeting was new and foreign to the invited media delegates.
“Thank you very much for affording us this opportunity to know some of the things you are doing in Chiredzi. Information is power and we wish we could get an opportunity to visit the site and have an appreciation of all these things you have said during the breakfast meeting,” Ruzvidzo said.
The company owns game reserves in the area and it is into various activities such as sports, environment as well as tourism and recently supported the Njama media awards.