Ingwebu gets essential service status, resumes operations
By Mthabisi Tshuma
Ingwebu Breweries has been granted essential service status and will operate with skeletal staff during the lockdown period to ensure workers are not exposed to the deadly Covid-19, the company’s managing director has said.
President Mnangagwa declared the 21-day national lockdown over a fortnight ago. He ordered businesses that provide non-essential services to close but said those providing essentials remain open.
Since the start of the lockdown Ingwebu Breweries has been closed. The company manufactures opaque beer and maheu. In a telephone interview yesterday, Ingwebu managing director Mr Dumisani Mhlanga said they resumed operations on Sunday.
“Two days before the lockdown we immediately stopped production and we resumed yesterday after consulting with authorities who granted us permission to be regarded as an essential service,” he said.
“As a company we have 532 employees and in light of the pandemic we will operate with a skeletal staff of 112 employees.”
Mr Mhlanga said the remaining staff members would continue to be placed under paid leave until the lockdown ends.
“As we will be operating using skeletal staff, other employees will be placed on paid leave as we follow Government’s directive that there will be no salary cuts during the lockdown.
“We will be operating on a 30 percent production basis meaning that we can only supply to wholesale and modern trade,” said Mr Mhlanga.
In view of Government’s directive allowing businesses to accept foreign currency for domestic transactions, Ingwebu said it was embracing the move and would sell its products in forex.
The move comes after Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor, Dr John Mangudya, announced that individuals and businesses can now trade freely in forex. He also fixed the exchange rate at US$1:ZW$25 during the lockdown period.
“We definitely are going to also offer the facility of selling in forex as we need the foreign currency to buy equipment and our inputs.
“We will sell based on the interbank exchange rate as set by the central bank,” said Mr Mhlanga.
Ingwebu Breweries was established in 1946 as a department of Bulawayo City Council and in 1996, council established a wholly-owned business entity under which the company falls. The Chronicle