The Sunday News
Gabriel Masvora, Business Editor
FOR the past 12 years, one of the most prominent features on Zimbabwe’s business calendar is the Megafest Business Awards.
Many businesspeople, some prominent and others ordinary who have made a difference in their little domain, have over the years been recipients of the awards.
What have set the awards apart from others is that they are all encompassing, digging deeper to identify those people even at shop floor level who are doing their best to ensure they execute their duties diligently.
On the contrary, other awards tend to branch achievements of companies by rewarding the chief executive officer or the entity, but in this case, even a secretary can be identified and rewarded if he or she is the best in the job.
But few have never traced how Megafest Awards started from just being a small event to reward those who were excelling in Bulawayo to become a national event where every year in March, many business executives look forward to checking if their names are part of those who will grace the podium.
“It came as a mistake, maybe I must say that,” recalls Dr Tafadzwa Matsika, founder of the awards and chief executive officer of Megafest Holdings, the company behind the awards.
“In 2008, I was doing my PhD with KwaZulu-Natal University (South Africa) and I wanted to study leadership in South Africa. The professor who was supervising me asked why I wanted to study leadership in South Africa when there were leaders in Zimbabwe, he vehemently told me that he will only accept to supervise me if I studied leadership in Zimbabwe,” said Dr Matsika.
But his biggest worry was that he was not comfortable studying leadership in politics.
“That is when I said maybe I must study leadership in business, Zimbabwe was going through hardships economically but I discovered that there were people, some not as prominent as we all knew, who were doing all they could to ensure that they remain relevant during the time,” he said.
At the time still, the idea of awards was not the main focus but to input the contributions of such people in his studies.
Dr Matsika said he then approached the late renowned Bulawayo economic commentator Dr Eric Bloch for help and that is when the idea of introducing awards came in.
“I worked a lot with Dr Bloch, he told me that I must come up with some sort of incentive to recognise these people by coming up with the awards, different awards from other business awards by looking at the work of those people who might not be big in society but who are working hard. People used to ask how we identified the winners but through Dr Bloch and his inner business connections we would identify an individual, study his/her work throughout the year and then three weeks before the awards we write to him/ her telling him/ her that we have been studying them and has been nominated for an award,” he said.
Besides Dr Bloch and his business connections, Dr Matsika said he also worked with media, students bodies and academics to try and identify achievers mainly in Bulawayo.
However, apart from the awards, by the time they write the letter and some few questions to the prospective winners, some of the responses were actually being in-putted in his PhD research.
“So, in the first five years, some of the responses, that were to be used for the awards were actually responses to some of the questions for my studies,” he said.
Dr Matsika said the awards were also part of repositioning Bulawayo and reminding the nation that the city was not dead.
“This is an award for business in Bulawayo, to just send a message out there that no, this city is not dead, there are people, some who do not necessarily thrive on publicity but who are doing great things in their companies.”
He, however, said he was surprised with the reception the wards got and within a few years everyone was interested in the awards.
In fact, besides many business associated awards, Megafest has grown to become big.
“We then decided to spread wings and grew the awards to be national. We now have regional awards before we have the national. We have Eastern region, Masvingo, Midlands Northern and Southern Awards. All these regions have a chairperson and these chairpersons form the national adjudication committee which will select the national winners who are announced in national awards every year in March.”
Bust far from the glitz of the awards Dr Matsika prefers to call himself a social entrepreneur.
“I am not intelligent but I am sharp. Even at school I was not that intelligent but I always tried to surround myself with people who are intelligent. I surround myself with high achievers and I try to learn from them, I also try to listen to criticism and learn from my mistakes,” he said.
Dr Matsika was born in Harare in 1980, moved to Mutare and came to Bulawayo in 1990.
“Bulawayo is my home now. I even did my first degree at Solusi University and when I graduated in 2003 with a Marketing Degree, straight from university, I was employed at PG Industries as the branch manager at 23 years. I did not last long because I was still not well versed with corporate politics and I thought of going back to school to read towards my Masters Degree. However, I was lucky I was then employed again as a branch manager at Africom, my team and I did well and that is when I was given the name Manyathela and even today I still appreciate that.”
Dr Matsika said over the years he has also started working towards his retirement.
“I want to retire at 45, that is five years from now, I want to demystify that idea that people have to be old to retire, I want to try something else, I have already started small projects of cattle fattening and maybe I will also use my education to teach one day.”
However, that does not mean that Megafest awards will die in five years.
“Like I said I have surrounded myself with sharp minds. In fact, among the team I am the dullest so I am sure the people will continue with the awards and the corporate sector will continue supporting them.”
Dr Matsika is married to Mercy and the couple is blessed with three children.
“When I am not busy my hobby is gardening and a bit of golf but more importantly I like spending time with the family, just being there with the kids because you realise soon the kids are growing fast and you need to be there every step to provide them with guidance.”