Everyone knows that there are people who are filthy rich in this country. But will we ever be able to know who really the richest person in Zimbabwe is? Or will it remain a subject for speculation as the big fish appear determined to swim in the darkest depths?There are stories of politicians who practically own some towns and church leaders who have gobbled up choice real estate in the best parts of Harare. Then there are the party animals like Wicknell Chivhayo and Genius Kadungure, who are known for hosting mammoth social events but do not seem to feature at the top of any formal profile of Zimbabwe’s rich people.
Real wealth, as they say, speaks for itself and the real men and women of substance seem content to live their lives in quiet splendour behind their high mansion walls.
But if you do something well, people will notice and they will talk about your excellence and naturally your success will serve as an inspiration to many. Leading telecommunications mogul Strive Masiyiwa has been noticed on a global scale as one of the richest men in Africa with a net worth of over US$800 million. He is widely regarded as the richest man in Zimbabwe.
Judging people by the car they drive, the house they live in or the properties they claim to own seems a chancy yardstick in this debt-ridden world. There is no official list of Zimbabwe’s richest men and women such as the one compiled by The Times and Forbes leaving the standings highly speculative.
While it is expected that entrepreneurs always head the list, there are some politicians, top civil servants and public company CEOs who seem to be enjoying the high life. But most are not willing to explain their expensive cars, holidays abroad, spoiled brats who reportedly go through pocket allowances of US$20 000 monthly and other expensive tastes.
Strive Masiyiwa, First on the list with a net worth of $829 million
Telecom mogul Strive Masiyiwa founded Econet Wireless, a family of communications companies with operations in Africa, Europe, South America and East Asia. That includes publicly-traded Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, as well as a partnership with African telecom behemoth MTN in Botswana, and Liquid Telecom, which built Africa’s largest fiber optic cable network.
With his wife, Tsitsi, Masiyiwa runs the Higher Life Foundation, which provides scholarships to orphans, including those whose parents have died of AIDS. He was also publisher of the Daily News, Zimbabwe’s only independent daily newspaper, which was closed down in 2003. His mother was an entrepreneur involved in the informal economy in what was then called Southern Rhodesia; she made enough money to send Masiyiwa to secondary school in Scotland and then the University of Wales, where he studied electrical engineering. He returned to worked for newly independent Zimbabwe’s state telecom company before starting Econet in the 1990s.
Nicholas Van Hoogstraten, Third on the list with a net worth of $729 million
Van Hoogstraten became involved in Zimbabwe when, aged 19, he bought an estate that turned out to include valuable mining rights. His relationship with the authorities has not always been smooth – in 2008 he was arrested on charges of breaking currency exchange laws and possessing pornography – but last year the UK’s Daily Mail reported that he is “flourishing” and owns 1,600 square miles of prime land.
He donated $3m (£1.78m) to Mugabe’s re-election campaign, the paper added.
The businessman has a 30% stake in the Hwange Colliery Company, the Mail & Guardian said, but is alarmed over its declining fortunes. It lost $30m (£17.81m) in 2013, after a profit of $3m (£1.78m) in 2012, and is now technically insolvent, raising fears of thousands of job losses
Billy Rautenbach, Fourth on the list with a net worth of $568 millionBilly Rautenbach is a controversial and wealthy Zimbabwean businessman.Born in 1959, he has been involved in numerous business ventures ranging from trucking, car manufacturing and farming to mining in numerous African countries.In the 1990s, he expanded his family business, Wheels of Africa (WOA), into arguably the largest trucking company in Africa, before turning to car assembly.Rautenbach is reportedly close to a number of Zanu-PF heavyweights, including Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.In 1998, he was appointed chair and managing director of Gecamines, a state-owned mining company in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
Shingai Mutasa, Fifth on the list with a net worth of $142 million
Shingai Mutasa or Shingi Mutasa owns TA Holdings and is the big brains behind the Joina Centre (one of themodern office buildings in Harare metropolitan area). TA Holdings is a diversified group listed on the ZimbabweStock Exchange with a current net value of over US$100 million.
“My vision is like a rock, it’s unshakable. But today, the challenges we have are of a country lacking a vision,” he said.
A graduate of the University College London with a BSc (Econs) Hons degree in 1980, Mutasa returned to Zimbabwe after completing his studies and commenced upon a career in commodity trading and marketing through a family-owned company. He co-founded Venture Finance, an investment vehicle that bought into TA Holdings with the objective of turning it into a continental investment group.
Philip Chiyangwa, Sixth on the list with a net worth of US $288 million.
Philip Chiyangwa (born 1959) the founder of the Affirmative Action Group, a chair of Native Africa Investments Ltd., and has served as an MP for the ZANU-PF party inZimbabwe. He is a cousin of President Robert Mugabe.
Philip Chiyangwa grew up in Hartley town, some 100 km south of Harare. He went to St. Francis school. His mother was from the Guta raJehovah City of the Lord sect. His young brothers James (Jimalo), Josphat and Mophat went to Pfupajena school. He worked for Chakari Mine before he was called up as a member of the BSAP African Reserve.
As a member of the BSAP African Reserve and served for several months in the lead-up, during and post the March 1980 election. In the November 2000, publication The History of the British South Africa Police, Chiyangwa was featured in a photograph taken at the time of the election lying prone with a police-issued FN, chatting to a senior, white BSAP officer. A copy was leaked to Zimbabwe’s independent press bringing a vehement denial by Chiyangwa who offered a substantial reward for information as to (the photo’s) source. The photo was, in fact, taken from the BSAP’s magazine Outpost archives in the early 1980s, to be used at a later date for the-then unplanned history.
Chiyangwa is the proprietor of Native Africa Investments Ltd. based in Harare. His company has been involved in a few high-profile takeovers, the most famous being G&D Shoes which he tried, with success to save from liquidation. He is a founder member of the Affirmative Action Group (AAG). He was also responsible for the 1998 visit to Zimbabwe by singer Michael Jackson and after announcing to National media that he would be working with the singer on various business projects.
In 2004–05 he was arrested and detained for several months by Mugabe’s notorious CIO after being accused of passing state secrets to South Africa agents. He allegedly received severe beatings and torture and suffered a mild stroke, and has subsequently moved away from politics and is now concentrating on his growing empire.
Ben Magara, Seventh on the list with a salary of $1.15 million.
Recently appointed as the Chief Executive Officer and as a Director of Lonmin, the world’s third-largest platinum mining company, Magara is tasked with improving industrial relations and guiding the platinum miner’s turnaround strategy after strikes last year triggered violence which killed 46 people including 34 strikers shot dead by police in a single day at its Marikana mine. With a mining career that spans 26 years, Magara was previously the Chief Executive Officer of Anglo Coal South Africa responsible for Anglo American total coal business in South Africa and revenues of around USD $2 billion. Magara, who speaks seven languages, has a degree in Mining Engineering from the University of Zimbabwe.
Sifiso Dabengwa, Eighth on the list with a salary of $772,735.
Mr. R. Sifiso N. Dabengwa, BB.Sc. (Elect. Eng.), MBA, EDP has been the Chief Executive Officer and President of MTN Group Ltd. since March 31, 2011. Mr. Dabengwa served as Chief Operating Officer of MTN Group Ltd. until March 31, 2011. Mr. Dabengwa served as Managing Director of MTN SA of MTN Group Ltd. Mr. Dabengwa served as Chief Operating Officer-South Africa of MTN Nigeria Communications Ltd. He served as Chief Executive Officer of -MTN Nigeria Communications Ltd.
Divine Ndhlukula, Ninth on the list.
Divine Ndhlukula, a Zimbabwean national, is the founder and Managing Director of SECURICO, one of Zimbabwe’s largest security companies. The Harare-based outfit is a market leader in the provision of bespoke guarding services and cutting-edge electronic security solutions.
Ndhlukula has done remarkably well. In less than 15 years of doing business, SECURICO has achieved a number of significant feats: The $13 million (revenues) company now has more than 3,400 employees – 900 of whom are women. The company was also the first security outfit in Zimbabwe to achieve an ISO (International Organization for Standardisation) certification. Last December the company was the winner of the prestigious Legatum Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship.
George Guvamatanga, Tenth on the list.
Mr. George T. Guvamatanga has been Managing Director and Executive Director of Barclays Bank of Zimbabwe Ltd since January 1, 2008. He is Member of the Company’s Credit, and Human Resources and Nominations Committees. Mr. Guvamatanga has over 17 years experience in the banking sector. He previously served as Head of Treasury of the Company between 2004 and January 1, 2008.
After Masiyiwa, little known entrepreneur Takudzwa Razemba (in his early 20s) of Orbz Investment Corporation seems to be the next rich person in the country. His empire is valued at over US$780 million according to a list compiled by Zimdev.
Getting him to talk about his wealth has always been tough.
“There is a serious problem of the ‘pull-him-down’ syndrome in this country. When people see you climb the ladder or when they know how much you are worth, they want to see you down and destroyed,” he said in an interview earlier this year. He added that you survive best when people know nothing about you.
“I don’t want to be in the limelight, the media destroys people’s lives especially when you are a public figure.”
Razemba, however admits that he is a multi-millionaire and has plans of creating one of the biggest stockbroking firms in Southern Africa and also open a commercial bank. Some of his outfits are listed on the FTSE and the London Stock Exchange. The companies are operating in the Netherlands, Germany, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mexico, Dubai, and Canada.
British businessman with vast interests in Zimbabwe Nic Van Hoogstraten with an estimated net worth of US$729 million also has a standing among the country’s richest with investments in the tourism, mining and property sectors. Mining and transport mogul Billy Rautenbach (US$568 million), whose empire spans across several African countries, is another wealthy Zimbabwean.
There is also room for TA Holdings and Joina Centre front- man Shingi Mutasa whose strategic acquisitions strategy propelled him from mere commodity broker to one of the richest businessmen in the country. He seems to be another publicity-shy fellow with his net worth of US$142 million believed to be understated.
He once said in an interview: “My success hinges on four words – name, value, integrity and vision.” How insightful!
Businessman and politician Philip Chiyangwa refuses to be outdone and was recently in the newspapers when his wife of 25 years filed for divorce and demanded a significant share of his wealth valued at US$288 million. Among some of his listed assets are a Rolls Royce Phantom worth US$475 000, a Bentley (US$350 000), a Mercedes-Benz GLS (US$300 000) substantial shareholding in 39 companies and interests in over 100 properties.
Another rising entrepreneur dodging the limelight is Moses Chingwena of Croco Motors, Duly’s, Premier Auto Services and Kia legacy who seems to have been steadily climbing the Zim richest ladder without incident. He also has interests in numerous other undertakings and counters on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange. He, like most of his peers at the top, prefers to be in the background.
Women appear to be even more reticent than men when it comes to exposing their portfolios. But that is not to say that none of them are very rich. Some female politicians and women have also claimed their stake with many quietly building empires.
Prominent and not necessarily the richest, Divine Ndhlukula of Securico, reportedly collects annual revenue of US13 million with a staff complement of 3 400. There are no ready indications of her net worth. Corporate lawyer Florence Ziumbe, who is the founder of Professional Women Executives and Business Women’s Forum, has also made her mark, but again, her pickings are not known.
Zimbabweans making waves in the region include MTN group chief executive and president Sifiso Dabengwa. His annual salary of R22,5 million makes him one of the most influential business executives on the continent. His counterpart, Ben Magara, the CEO of Anglo Coal South Africa, is also another leading light for Zimbabwe but again, his net worth is not known.
Do you need to be paranoid to be a Zimbabwean millionaire?