Gabriel Masvora , Business Editor
REGIONAL cement maker PPC Limited has announced a group regional shake-up which will see PPC Zimbabwe managing director Mr Njombo Lekula being elevated to managing director of International Operations replacing Mr Pepe Meiger who is retiring from the group after 28 years.
In a statement on Thursday, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange listed cement and lime manufacturer said it was elevating Mr Lekula since its regional expansion programme was gathering pace and needed executive focus.
“Our businesses in Rwanda, Zimbabwe and Botswana are all at an advanced stage and we have ambitious plans for DRC and Ethiopia which require full time focus at an executive level. We are pleased to announce the appointment of Njombo Lekula as the MD of International Operations. He replaces Pepe Meijer, who after 28 of loyal service has decided to take a break from corporate life,” said PPC Ltd.
The group has units in many African countries and is also in the process of building new plants in many countries including in Harare, Zimbabwe.
Mr Lekula, a South African, joined PPC Zimbabwe in May 2011.
He is an engineer by profession and holds an MBA from the University of Stellenbosch.
Mr Lekula joined PPC in 1990, and has more than 20 years of experience, has held various operational and management positions within the company including executive group services.
He is a member of the PPC Ltd management committee.
During his tenure at the helm of PPC Zimbabwe, Mr Lekula oversaw the commissioning of the state of the palletizer cement packaging system.
The packaging system at the Bulawayo factory is the first bulk cement loading system in Zimbabwe.
He also oversaw the optimisation of the Bulawayo and Colleen Bawn in Gwanda resulting in the Zimbabwe operation being one of the major contributors to net production figures of the group.
A humble Mr Lekula told Sunday News Business on Friday that he was not necessarily the only one behind the success that PPC Zimbabwe has witnessed over the years
“I believe that leadership is about bringing the best out of the people or individuals you are meant to lead. I therefore cannot isolate my contribution from the achievements of the PPC Zimbabwe team, especially because my role was just to lead the team,” he said.
Mr Lekula said he was blessed to have a team that granted him the permission to lead.
“As an individual I could not have made the achievements this organisation managed. We have, on the marketing front, grown our brand ‘PPC Zimbabwe’ to be a true nationally recognised brand with a significant regional impact,” he said.
Mr Lekula said above all the achievements his most satisfying was the development of the people.
“I am continuously astounded with the growth of individuals that I have witnessed over the past two to five years. We have just embarked on a world class supervisory development programme that will complete our team’s competency programme.
This will ensure that our operations are able to operate efficiently including the Harare Masasa operations which is due for commissioning mid next year,” he said.
Mr Lekula said the group will announce his successor in the next few weeks.
“However, what I can tell you is that PPC as a group has an extensive talent management plan which includes a well-managed succession plan. Similar programmes are implemented in Zimbabwe and we have adequate resource capability to replace me. Be mindful that Zimbabwe is still in the scope of my new role, therefore there will be no problems of continuity with our business programmes,” he said.
He paid tribute to Mr Meijer, whom he described as a mentor whom he owed a big part of his career growth.
“For instance with regards to the Harare projects, I am just changing roles from being accountable for operationalising the unit and the responsibility of delivering return. From now I change roles to take accountability of return in value while I keep responsibility of operationalising it. We have developed enough resources to take that responsibility.”
Meanwhile, the group announced that Zimbabwe operations recorded an overall decline in revenues of four percent for the year ending September 2015.
“The stronger US dollar, as well as increased competitor and pricing pressure, led to exports declining. Price increases in the local market remained muted, with good cost control leading to improved margins,” said PPC .
It said construction of the $85 million, 700 000 tonne per annum mill in Harare was proceeding well, with the project around 50 percent complete and the rail siding contract 32 percent complete.
“Design work is almost complete, with 95 percent of equipment manufactured and 65 percent delivered to site, while civil construction is 40 percent complete. Roads to the site, water, sewerage infrastructure and power supply from the national power utility are complete,” said the company.
The group said the plant was expected to be commissioned towards the end of calendar 2016 and will enable the company to improve use of its existing labour force as key staff members for the factory will be drawn from staff at Bulawayo and Colleen Bawn operations.
The company has cement manufacturing plants at Cement Siding in Bulawayo and Colleen Bawn in Matabeleland South.