A QUIET wedding ceremony in India 37 years ago involving a young man of Asian origin and his Zimbabwean fiancée Parul Kothari has turned out to be a boon for the community of Bulawayo South in Zimbabwe.
By Style CORRESPONDENT
The groom, Raj Modi, who is now a successful businessman and politician, has earned the title “The Jewel of Bulawayo” from residents due to his philanthropic activities in the city.
Modi told The Standard Style in an exclusive interview last Monday that at the time of the wedding, when he was then a 22-year-old, he never fathomed that he would make history in Zimbabwe’s general elections by becoming the first Zanu PF candidate in 18 years to win a parliamentary seat in Bulawayo, an MDC Alliance stronghold.
What makes the Bulawayo businessman’s recent election victory a talking point is that the opposition party has been claiming all the 12 seats in elections it has not boycotted since the 2000 elections.
The icing on the cake, according to residents interviewed, is that the Bulawayo South legislator is keeping his election promises by empowering small businesses and vendors through the provision of loans to boast their business ventures in a region where industry has collapsed due to years of economic decay under former president Robert Mugabe’s regime.
A 59-year-old woman who stays in Montrose, Nelia Murefu, could not hide her joy as she revealed Modi’s path to victory in a diverse constituency that includes Newton west, Montrose, Tshabalala and Nketa suburbs, among others.
The businessman’s philanthropic efforts have made him a “jewel” in the constituency Murefu said, citing a case where he revamped the dilapidated and neglected Sidojiwe hostels.
“Thumbs up to honourable Raj Modi, you are a jewel in our constituency. The businessman and his family runs the Modi Family Trust that assists small businesses with start-up capital,” Murefu said.
“He has also revamped the Sidojiwe hostels, they now have individual toilets. To have good sanitation is everyone’s desire and the Sidojiwe community is grateful to him especially the children he takes care of.
“The cherry on the top is he has decided to forgo his salary from government and channel it towards the less privileged. We adore him for that.”
Following his appointment as Industry and Commerce deputy minister, Modi now faces another challenge of making Zimbabwe’s industry work again.
He said he was unperturbed by the seemingly Herculean task as his heart always lay with making Bulawayo industry tick again.
He urged Zimbabweans to be patient and remain united in efforts to resuscitate the economy.
“My heart lies with the people of Bulawayo and I thank the president for showing his faith in me by appointing me as minister,” Modi said.
“I urge all Zimbabweans to be patient with this government. We will make industry tick again.”
All this is coming from a man who once worked as a cashier in India before rising to become one of the leading businessmen in Zimbabwe’s second largest city. His company, Sai Enterprises, has created over a thousand jobs and is set to create more jobs following the installation of his $7 million solar equipment plant in partnership with Indian firm Kanti Council Services in Belmont.
Modi said he was setting up a smartphone and laptop assembling plant that would create 500 jobs.