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Billionaire Dangote to maintain Harpal’s Zim business operation



ALIKO Dangote, Africa’s richest black person, who founded and chairs Dangote Cement, the continent’s largest cement producer, yesterday promised to keep the Zimbabwean business empire of the late Indian mogul Harpal Singh Randhawa, who had vast gold, diamonds and coal mining interests in the country, intact.


Dangote told mourners in a virtual address that he will ensure Randhawa’s businesses do not stop running after his tragic death with his only son and child Amer Kabir Singh (22 years) on 29 September.

Harpal was 60.

The Randhawas died with four others onboard. The other victims were George Sibanda (51), Nikhil Mahadik Milind, Reginald Muchemwa and Pichumoney Viswanath (58).

The Cessna plane, owned by the Zimbabwe Stock Exchnage-listed RioZim Ltd, crashed between 7:30am and 8am at Peter Farm in Zvemahande area, Mashava, on its way from Harare to Murowa Diamonds in Zvishavane. It had left Harare at 6:30am.

This was not the first time a RioZim/Murowa small plane was involved in an accident. In February, a Piper 31 Navajo aircraft owned by RZM Murowa was force landed in a farm field about 16 kilometres away from Beatrice south of Harare.

Dangote, who apparently came to Harare soon after the recent fatal crash, addressed mourners under a cloud of darkness and a sombre atmosphere at Raintree, Umwinsidale, Harare. The popular events venue is located at 1 Langhorne Lane, Umwinsidale. 

The memorial, which will also be done in London and New Delhi, had earlier been delayed as government conducted DNA tests and completed other identification procedures, while securing the site of the plane crash for investigations, which have not yet begun in earnest due to shortages of expertise.

The Nigerian billionaire said he will do everything to keep Harpal’s business empire and legacy
Family members, relatives and friends spoke at the memorial. Harpal’s wife and sister also delivered sad addresses to a gathering which included his mother.

Others who spoke included Zimnat Group chief executive Mustafa Sachak, local tycoon Shingi Mutasa and his wife Karen, attorney and international arbiter Muchadeyi Masunda and President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s son-in-law Gerald Mlotshwa who as present with his wife Farai.

Other prominent people present included former Finance minister Herbert Murerwa, businessman Farai Rwodzi and media manager Raphael Khumalo, among many others.

Randhawa was not a complete stranger to media business. He was once approached to buy into Alpha Media Holdings – publishers of NewsDay, Zimbabwe Independent and The Standard, as well as online broadcasting platform Heart & Soul, which is owned by media proprietor Trevor Ncube and Mlotshwa, but he rejected the offer due to the company’s debts and technical insolvency.

Ncube was not at the memorial despite that it was a stone’s throw away from his Umwinsidale home, although he was supposed to address a social club which Randhawa attended before his death.

Randhawa’s family members and relatives from London, United Kingdom, and India also participated.

The late businessman, a Sikh, left the Indian capital New Delhi to work as a banker in London before venturing into business, with Zimbabwe being his destination.

Sikhs are a religious minority in the north-western state of Punjab, where they form a majority. There are approximately 26 million Sikhs globally, of whom 23 million live in India where they are less than 2% of the 1.4 billion population.

Randhawa, the founder of the US$4 billion private equity firm GEM Holdings, had a big stake in RioZim.

After global mining giant Rio Tinto plc left Zimbabwe in 2015 after 60 years in Zimbabwe, RioZim acquired its 78% stake in Murowa Diamonds and its 50% holding in the Sengwa Colliery mine.

Rio Tinto, the British-Australian multinational company that is the world’s second-largest metals and mining corporation, also owned the Sengwa coal fields with RioZim on a 50-50 partnership.

RioZim was incorporated on August 29, 1956 as Rio Tinto Southern Rhodesia Ltd. It was set up initially to develop and mine the Empress Nickel deposit in the Midlands and was the first mining operation to be set up outside Europe by Rio Tinto plc.

RioZim separated from Rio Tinto plc in 2004 and became a wholly-owned Zimbabwean company which produces gold, coal, toll refines nickel, copper and now involved in diamonds. The company is listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.

Dangote has the financial muscle to keep Randhawa’s businesses afloat. He owns 85% of publicly-traded Dangote Cement through a holding company.

Dangote Cement has the capacity to produce 48.6 million metric tons annually and has operations in 10 countries across Africa. After many years in development, Dangote’s fertiliser plant in Nigeria began operations in March 2022.

Dangote Refinery has been under construction since 2016 and is expected to be one of the world’s largest oil refineries once complete.

Dangote, the world’s richest Black billionaire and founder of Dangote Group, has played a crucial role in shaping Africa’s business landscape and positioning Nigeria as one of the most industrialised countries on the continent.

With diverse interests spanning various sectors in Nigeria and across Africa, Dangote’s expansive businesses under Dangote Group have made him the second largest employer, closely trailing behind the country’s federal government.

His net worth stands at US$10.8 billion, making him Africa and the world’s richest Black billionaire.

Presently, he holds direct or indirect ownership in 15 companies, showcasing the breadth and scale of his business empire.

Africa’s population of wealthy individuals is on the rise, with 21 billionaires currently residing on the continent.

South Africa’s Johann Rupert is the wealthiest man in Africa, having started his career with a banking apprenticeship in New York before returning home and eventually transitioning to the retail industry.

Rupert is now the chairman of Swiss luxury goods company Compagnie Financiere Richemont, with a net worth of US$11.3 billion.

Coming in at number two on the list is Aliko Dangote. He started as a small sugar trader but now has a net worth of US$10.8 billion.

Other billionaires are the likes of South Africa’s Nicky Oppenheimer (3rd) and Patrice Motsepe (12th), the richest black person in South Africa, made their fortunes in the mining industry, which contributes almost 10% to sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP.

Meanwhile, Naguib Sawiris (10th) and Zimbabwe’s Strive Masiyiwa (14th) have built remarkable telecoms empires.

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