Sugar producer, Hippo Valley Estates Limited, a subsidiary of South Africa’s Tongaat Hulett, has invested ZWL$13 million in COVID-19 mitigation measures in the workplace.
Following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and its rapid spread across the globe, President Emmerson Mnangagwa declared a state of emergency and put the country on lockdown with effect from 30 March 2020.
However, as one of the country’s key sugar producers, Hippo Valley was designated as an essential service provider and exempted from the lockdown and granted permission to continue operating.
“The Company has to date invested a total of ZWL13 million in COVID-19 mitigation measures in the workplace,” said the company chairman, Dan Marokane, in a special trading update issued this week.
“In addition, the company has taken robust steps to assist central, provincial and local governments and communities in combating the pandemic. The Company has to date donated 150 000 litres of ethanol worth ZWL4 million to the State for the manufacture of sanitisers, ZWL6 million to Masvingo province to assist with the procurement of surgical gloves, masks, critical equipment and materials for the rehabilitation of eight district hospitals which are designated COVID-19 isolation centres.”
Marokane said key measures being implemented in the workplace include among others rigorous COVID-19 information and awareness campaigns, reducing the number of employees reporting physically at the workplace and capacitating critical staff who are not required to perform physical tasks to work from home where possible.
“With these measures in place, the company has not, to date, experienced any major disruptions to its operations with all key activities that include sugar cane maintenance, harvesting, sugar packing and distribution operations progressing satisfactorily,” said Marokane.
“Sugar milling for the season commenced on 5 May 2020 following a successful off-crop programme.”
Meanwhile, the company has developed a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) premised on the worst case scenario that the pandemic may take a turn for the worst and that the lockdown period may be extended for most of the season with highly disruptive consequences for the business.
Zimbabwe’s COVID-19 cases have since shot from just over 50 to 132.