AS SEEN ON Dr Strive’s FB Page
When the new law stopped us from proceeding with the project, in February 1996, we had no option but to go back to the Constitutional Court; a process which would take almost another year.
Meanwhile my detractors turned their attention to forcing me out of business altogether. Their plan was to force me into bankruptcy. They knew that over 80%, of my projects were for government. I was given an ultimatum: “drop your interest in telecoms or we will shut down all your other businesses!”
I was facing bankruptcy. It also meant the loss of jobs of over 1000 people.
I had to act quickly:
I decided to sell all my businesses that relied on any type of government contracts. I sold my businesses within 2 weeks. This meant I was not paid the proper value of the businesses; I agreed to basically walk away, with almost nothing… It was more important to save the businesses, and the jobs, but it meant that 10 years of my work was all gone.
… I was not bitter.
Meanwhile the PTC announced that they would launch a cell phone network, now known as NetOne. This would ultimately give them a 2 year head start.
… I was not discouraged.
The lawyers asked me to come and see them. It was the senior partners of the firm, Mervin Immerman, Harry Kantor, the Jewish- Zimbabwean, founders of the firm, Also present were Antony Eastwood, Canaan Dube, and Beatrice Mtetwa. We discussed the challenge of meeting the cost of ongoing litigation. They said they would continue to help me fight the case, even if I run out of money. A new group of young lawyers, had joined the firm and these included Tawanda Nyambirai, Nic Rudnick and Jo McNally, and they were now the mainstay of the legal battles, under Antony Eastwood’s supervision. Dr Judith O’Neil also made similar arrangements with her law firm in America.
In the weeks and months to come many other creditors either forgave my debts or deferred them, until I was able to pay, at a future date. I visited each and every creditor, no matter what. This is when I realized the mantra, that “integrity is better than money”.
The police called me regularly for “interviews”, and I would always go with one of the lawyers. It was a ritual, which they did not enjoy and they were often very courteous, and I was never mistreated. We always had to avoid, Fridays, because it would mean weekend custody. On one such occasion, one of the policemen tipped me off, that I was to spend the weekend in custody; not knowing where to go,I called Pastor Langton Gatsi and his late wife. They came and collected me in a small van, and I slipped away, hidden under a blanket. I spent a weekend in their home and on Monday morning, I handed myself in, only to be released without charge.
The persecutions, instigated by the small group of powerful business people, who wanted to take over my project, intensified. The months ground on. My financial resources were almost gone. We still had almost two years to go.
And we continued hard in prayer “without ceasing”, now joined by almost the entire Christian community in our country. I could not walk down the street without someone shouting, “we are praying for you, hang in there!”
To be continued…
One of the most important lessons, I learnt very early in business, was the need to develop strong professional and personal relationships with your suppliers, and creditors. When someone trusts you enough to give you something, without paying upfront, that person is actually your partner, in the business. If something goes wrong, and you cannot pay on time as agreed, don’t run away, or make yourself scarce. Don’t write them little SMS’ or email: go and see them, in person. And when you see them, be truthful and don’t make promises you cannot keep. Even if they shout at you, keep going. This is how you practice and develop integrity, and it is one of the mysteries of building your capital.
Even when we are waiting or going through a storm, God has His way of encouraging and strengthening us. I will share some of them with you, as we go along.
One of the most powerful was when one of my heroes of faith Bishop Ezekiel Gutu, sent a message for me to come and see him.I had never met him, but he is a General of our faith:
“I just wanted you to know that you will prevail.” Then he prayed for me, and I left with that warm glow! I could have gone another ten years, if necessary, after such a word of encouragement.
When you study the last few posts, one of the key lessons, that you should have picked up, is the need to be decisive, quick and efficient, particularly when you face any kind of crisis. Never procrastinate or put off a decision until another time.
Once I knew that I must sell the business, I was never sentimental. You might be holding onto a business that is not working, and you have tried everything, and it does not work. If your analysis says you must sell, be quick, decisive, and efficient; this too is good BUSINESSCRAFT.
1Co13:13, says, “and now abideth faith…”. Another way of saying this, is “true faith never, never fails”. Once you understand what faith really is; how you get it; how you strengthen it; how you make it grow; and how you use it.. You will always find that it never fails.
Many people have not really been taught properly about faith, and this leads to them experiencing failure.
One of the most important lessons, I learnt from this episode, was never to build your business, on the basis of supplying products or services to a single customer. It does not matter how good your relationships are with that one good customer. You must always push out to get more customers, for your business. So many people have gone out of business because they rely on getting contracts from just one customer such as the government, or a local authority.