Conrad Mupesa Mashonaland West Bureau
THE resuscitation of the country’s yesteryear biggest fabric producer, David Whitehead Textiles in Chegutu by Agro-Value Chain Limited Zimbabwe has raised hopes of employment opportunities for youths in the town.
The plant whose revival in a US$20 million facility, was officially commissioned yesterday by President Mnangagwa who was represented by Industry and Commerce Minister, Dr Sekai Nzenza, where he commended the company for spearheading investment and employment creation towards attaining Vision 2030.
The President also called for other private players to emulate David Whitehead’s efforts.
He also launched AVC’s multi-million-dollar plant that comprises a cotton ginning factory and a state-of-the-art oil extraction plant with capacity and capability to crush cotton, soyabean, sunflower and canola seeds.
Speaking after the launch and public address, youths in the area were optimistic that the new investments would help improve lives.
David Whitehead Textiles was a major source of employment for most people in the town and its closure over a decade ago affected most families in the town.
For Yolanda Chikukwa, the opening of David Whitehead and cotton ginning factory were signs that they were headed for better times.
“Most youths were not formally employed and we are grateful that President Mnangagwa through the ‘Zimbabwe is Open of Business Mantra’ has lured investors to resuscitate the plant,” she said.
Some former David Whitehead Textiles workers who have since reached their retirement age relived memories of the company’s yesteryear contribution to the community.
“We are hopeful that the factory will leave to the yesteryear’s billing as most of us managed to take our children through to university working at David Whitehead Textiles,” Mr Thomas Phiri said.
President Mnangagwa rallied all private players to take advantage of a conducive environment that helps create opportunities for them to expand and thrive.
“Our private sector should take advantages of the linkages between Agriculture with other sectors of the economy, starting from energy, water, Information, Communication Technology (ICT), transport and logistics and many others. The manufacturing sector alone sources 60 percent of its requirements from the agriculture sector,” he said.
Added President Mnangagwa: “Let me commend your genuine efforts towards resuscitating David Whitehead Textiles (DWT). You underscored the fact once you fully revive David Whitehead Textiles, it will be churning 10 million metres of fabric annually. It will also be the sole manufacturer of fabric used in the production of military fatigues and school uniforms in Zimbabwe.”
The Government, he said, was ready to render its support to the company to bring David Whitehead Textiles to its former glory.
He also exhorted AVC which is a subsidiary of ETG Parrogate group to tap into opportunities presented by various trade agreements in which Zimbabwe is a signatory to that included SADC, COMESA and AfCFTA.
The company’s Corporate Social Responsibility gesture in constructing a $1,5 million state-of-the-art 40-bed hospital in the town also drew wide cheers from the attendees with the President assuring adequate support.
Parrogate group chairman, Mr Pradeep Ganediwal said new machinery is expected to be installed by year end with commercial production earmarked for May next year while an 8,3 megawatt solar plant to power David Whitehead Textile is also under pipeline.
Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution for Mashonaland West, Mary Mliswa-Chikoka said the company had assured the government that it would construct accommodation to families occupying houses belonging to DWT.
Chegutu East legislator, Webster Shamu challenged the company to offer unskilled labour opportunities to locals as another way of ploughing back into the community.
The event was also attended by India Ambassador to Zimbabwe, His Excellency, Mr Vijay Kanduja.