Fanuel Kangondo Deputy Lifestyle Editor
Besides his strong Christian beliefs and a desire to work with people from all walks of life, leading hotelier and businessman Dr Shingi Munyeza considers himself as a bridge for transformation and aspires to work to bring change to people’s lives.
To the uninitiated he is viewed as one of those high class executives who never have time to interact with those considered to be in the lower echelons of his presumed social class, but not so for the down to earth visionary who has been at the helm of one of the country’s leading hotel groups.
“I want to be a bridge for transformation, to be a stepping stone for change even if eventually I do not benefit personally.
“I am not so much driven by personal benefit but by the outcome of change. I do not necessarily look for reciprocity for my actions but I am more driven by a God given mandate,” he said in a recent interview.
Looking back on over three decades of serving God, Dr Munyeza (48), a senior pastor with Faith Ministries, said this has built his character and the way he views life driven by his upbringing, convictions and values.
Dr Munyeza, or simply Doc as he is referred to by his work colleagues, business associates and congregation, is the chief executive of African Sun Hotels group whose footprint spreads across the African continent.
He has the utmost respect for his spiritual mentor Bishop Ngwiza Mnkandla whom he credits for building his Christian values. The church has 46 congregations nationwide.
He is married to Wilmour and the couple has an 18-year-old daughter Nomsa who is now in college.
Doc has been very vocal on issues surrounding nation building and was part of the business delegation that went to Europe lobbying for re-engagement with the Government in the wake of over a decade of illegal economic sanctions that were weighing down development in the country.
“I am happy that some results are coming but I would advocate for the complete removal of all hindrances between the EU and Zimbabwe and move away from the stand offs. We would like to begin on a completely new slate. If the gesture is genuine, one would ask, ‘Why are you holding my father hostage?’” he asked in reference to the bloc’s continued sanctions on President Mugabe and the First Family.
He was optimistic that the future was bright for Zimbabwe and this required all nationals to play their part as each one had a role to play as the country was endowed with vast natural resources.
“We are not a nation that is going nowhere, no. I am convinced that something great is about to happen but we need to shake off that negative sentiment about Zimbabwe and build on that national spirit of knowing that we have a destiny to fill. It’s not left to an individual; we must arise and do what has to be done and we all know what’s right and what’s wrong.”
Asked to comment on the presumed link between Christianity and most successful businessmen, Dr Munyeza said: “In the past Christianity was associated with poverty and you would actually go to church to be helped financially.
“But now things have changed and if you go to the scriptures, John 10 verse 10 reads: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly.”
The verse has been used as a description of the Christian life, the normative pattern of life that Christians can expect because of God’s blessings. Dr Munyeza said that the focus and outcomes of Christianity should be anchored on faith and the relationship with God and now with a lot of awareness of what the gospel can do, the results were amazing. He added that a number of the esteemed successful businesspeople found favour and purpose in what the gospel says.
Growing up in a rural setting, Dr Munyeza said that he had to pay for his tertiary education before enrolling with Ernst and Young where he did his articles but was soon to leave and enter divergent fields like marketing and advertising.
He said that he had a passion to be with people and he was missing that link in accounting and that was the reason why he left and joined the service sector and hence his landing in the hospitality industry. His open door policy has been extended to the extent that guests at all the resorts run by African Sun can place a direct call to him.
The growth of African Sun that runs 13 hotels and resorts in Zimbabwe under Dr Munyeza’s leadership is manifested in the 2 500 people under the organisation’s payroll across the continent, including some countries where the company has management agreements.
Recent developments have seen advisory firm Brainworks buying into African Sun in a move designed to inject fresh capital and retire legacy debts weighing down the organisation.
Dr Munyeza, an entrepreneur at heart, was upbeat that the company has now turned the corner and returned to a profitable position.
He was quick however to state that he still drives the vision of the hotel group and as they were jointly the majority shareholders with Brainworks, there was no turning back in the quest to be the leading hotel group not only in Zimbabwe, but Africa as a whole.
Asked if he harboured any political ambitions, Dr Munyeza said: “It is important one fundamentally understands when you are in politics you are working in a volatile environment. I think that I play a political role whether I am in church, corporate and whatever I do but I must say that I am consumed with what I am doing right now to even consider political office.
“I work closely with my leadership team at African Sun where I give direction, lead, direct and I monitor.”
Dr Munyeza is active in a number of forums and has been working hard to promote tourism and other related economic activities in the country. He is also a keen golfer who finds time to play at least once a week.
As for his family, the oratorical Doc said he makes an effort to be home by 6pm and in considering what to do he said that he considers the benefit and immediately makes a decision whether or not to pursue it.