By Freedom Mupanedemo
One of the country’s business awards and events company, Megafest Holdings recently held another edition of an awards ceremony to honour outstanding businesses from across all sectors in the Midlands Province at a local lush hotel.
As usual, reputable companies made it to the list of nominees in various categories and this mere list of companies did not trigger an atom of anxiety from the attendees and audience with some of them being on the list again and again from the previous editions and other such awards ceremonies.
Among the list of nominees for the outstanding businesspersons and companies of the year was River Valley Properties, a private property development concern that has become a household name in the construction industry in Zimbabwe.
Along with the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company, (ZETDC), Zvishavane-based Pote Holdings, Midlands Metals, the list presented no shocker nor surprises as it consisted those companies that are now well known and have scooped top business gongs before, both at provincial and national level, even international level.
But every company has a face or faces behind it. And on this Megafest Midlands awards night, the night that was full of humour, pomp and fanfare and captivated by a lively and ever electric female director of ceremonies.
One other company that has for the umpteenth time, popped on the list of nominees to resonate well with the nodding invited dignitaries was River Valley Properties.
The name River Valley Properties has become synonymous with one woman, Dr Smelly Dube, known for her aggressiveness in her approach to business which has taken the company to dizzy heights.
Year in year out, Dr Dube has scooped awards in recognition of her leadership skills and her ability to stand out as a distinct woman who has contributed a lot to inspire fellow women as well as making a difference in the society.
She has even graced international business awards stages, in the process, penning her own piece of history.
When the company name appeared on the nominees list, along others like Midlands Metals, and Matsa Energy, everyone quickly thought of the faces behind these companies and some of the attendees could be seen congratulating Dr Dube who was in attendance and has become a regular winner.
It however, came to the shock of most attendees, if not everyone, when Dr Dube was peeped to the gong, after the big prize of the night for top business individual went to her husband, a little known, Mr Mncedisi Dube.
The award was in recognition of his sterling efforts, albeit behind the scenes for setting out a fully-fledged and stand-alone civil engineering department under the River Valley banner.
An Air Force of Zimbabwe-trained flight Sergeant (retired), Mr Dube has for years played second fiddle in the day-to-day running of River Valley Properties Company with the wife running the show.
For years, he remained in his job as an airman while the wife was running her own company.
The company has been into private property development business but for years, they remained heavily relying on hired equipment for land clearing and other projects.
When Mr Dube decided to retire from his civil service duties to join the River Valley Properties company on full-time basis as the company chairperson, he brought in some vast investment ideas which despite the successes of the company, the CEO, had never fathomed.
“When I came in I realised that the company was hiring every equipment and this was eating a huge chunk of the company profits through equipment hires.
I then suggested in one of the meetings that the company should start thinking of buying its own earth moving equipment but the idea was quickly shot down by the CEO who thought such an idea was tantamount to day dreaming considering the amount of capital injection needed for one to achieve that.
I kept on airing out my idea in every other meeting that we should have our own equipment as opposed to hiring but no one seemed to take me seriously,” said the soft-spoken and media shy Mr Dube.
Using his civil engineering experience which he gained during his time in the Air Force of Zimbabwe, Mr Dube said he continued with his vision and silently, he began to scout for equipment in the market without the knowledge of the CEO.
“I went around searching for equipment like graders, tippers while requesting quotations for the equipment from the suppliers. I would also attend many auctions where such equipment was up for grabs,” he said.
Mr Dube said when he first presented the quotations for the company to consider buying own equipment, he was again dismissed.
“I then started doing this silently and as the company made profits, I ordered the first batch of equipment which included a grader. As the chairman of the company, I ordered the equipment and the CEO was shocked when she was presented with a bill for the first purchase,” he said.
Today, River Valley Properties has a stand-alone civil engineering department and has since diverted from being a mere private property development company to a civil engineering company.
Mr Dube heads the civil engineering department and the company has won several Government and local authorities tenders to tar and redo most roads in the Midlands and Matabeleland provinces.
The company is currently tarring about four kilometres of the Mberengwa-West Michelson Highway, the company is also rehabilitating roads in Lupane and has completed Government funded Jobs in Bulilima and Mangwe districts.
All these jobs are being headed by a man many know very little about.
In fact, many people identify River Valley Properties with Dr Smelly Dube.
In some quarters, Mrs Dube is thought to be single and widowed. Even the nearest awards CEO Dr Tafadzwa Matsika acknowledges it took years for the organisation to know that Mr Dube was doing wonders behind the scenes.
“It’s true, Dr Dube in her own right is a courageous, inspiring and a successful businesswoman but many of us did not know that this woman has a strong pillar of strength to lean on, her husband.
“When we did our research, we realised that the husband is also doing wonders and has helped the company spread its wings. This is why we decided to this time around honour Mr Dube for his sterling work, establishing a strong stand alone department in the civil engineering sector,” he said.
Mr Dube himself admits that many people didn’t know he existed in the River Valley business matrix.
“At one point I travelled with some people whom I picked on my way to one of my projects and they started gossiping about the company while saying the company was solely run by a woman whom they thought was a widow. I kept quiet and did not respond to them,” he said.
So when Mr Dube bagged an award at the Megafest business dinner recently, there were huge celebrations from an equally stunned audience which had little to no knowledge of Mr Dube. Sunday News.