"Yadah Marble factory shows what homegrown business acumen can deliver. It is indeed a great measure of national confidence."
Eight thousand people patiently stand in a queue which snakes from Simon Mazorodze Road towards Plymouth Road in Harare's Southerton industrial area.
Their conversations break the deathly silence that has become the norm in this part of the capital. The rains are threatening to fall, the sky is saturated with dark clouds yet those in the queue seem not to care, they are too excited to notice.
The line suddenly ends in front of a black gate. There is silence as people attentively listen to the voice of Zimbabwe's Vice President Kembo Mohadi coming from the other side of the gate.
The congregants are too many to fit in the premises, only early birds have seats. It is Saturday February 17, 2018 the day VP Mohadi delivered his keynote address and officially opened Yadah Marble, cutting and polishing factory.
The state-of-the-art factory worth over $17 million was set up over a period of seven months and becomes the first of its kind in Zimbabwe.
In the factory, machines as if hungry for limestone that includes red jasper, citrus, cirrus, tengwe gate, diesel, randonica, spencer's choice, lilac, woodstone, kumusha, nyanga leopard, woodstone, sported, pudy and zumbara just to name a few roar as those who have attended the official opening admire their appetite.
The multi-million high tech machines aimed at making the marble production process more efficient include the three gang-saw cutting machines and diamond polishing machine.
In his speech, VP Mohadi is quite clear about the new political dispensation's feelings over the marble cutting and polishing factory which will not only create 3 000 jobs, but will also add value to Zimbabwe's minerals and bring home the much needed foreign currency.
"The new dispensation which President Mnangagwa leads has created hope and real prospect of improving the day to day life of the hardworking and disciplined population.
"He has a welcome slogan, 'Zimbabwe is open for business'. This mantra is directed as much to locals as much as it is directed to foreigners," VP Mohadi told the crowd.
He said since President Mnangagwa came into office they have managed to attract investments to the tune of $3 billion.
"It is not business as usual, we work. President Mnangagwa's mantra is to see the workers of Zimbabwe produce high quality, world class goods and services destined for the demanding global markets. That will enable once and for all, end the critical shortages of hard currency.
"Productivity is exactly what you are doing here, you are producing. You have picked up rocks that we used to just walk, pass by without knowing there was value to them.
"So it now goes to what Minister of Industry and Commerce was saying that what we are after is to improve the quality of our resources before we export them. We need to improve on them, to beneficiate them so that they give us the maximum returns we are all looking for," said VP Mohadi.
He said grabbing Zimbabwe's rightful share of the foreign market was a sure and realistic aspiration if the country's Unesco high ranking in the field of education is taken into consideration. VP Mohadi applauded Prophet Magaya for the positive and eager response to the business call by President Mnangagwa.
"The last few months have seen many obstacles removed and cobwebs wiped out of the pathway of sound business. Prophet Magaya has wasted no time in aptly responding to the new business friendly environment.
"Yadah Marble factory shows what homegrown business acumen can deliver. It is indeed a great measure of national confidence.
"The primary duty to grow the economy lies on the laps of the sons and daughters of Zimbabwe. Once the local people express their will to invest then foreigners who may even have more capacity and better access to global funding will surely follow.
"Thank you Prophet Magaya for leading in this direction. Thank you for shepherding the spirits of these people. We look after their physical welfare and you look after their spiritual welfare," he added.
He said the high quality equipment at Yadah Marble was testimony to yet another attribute to the personality of Prophet Magaya.
"He is streetwise on the international business stage. Italians have a legendary reputation on marble designs and on the other hand the Chinese have emerged as the masters of modern manufacturing. Prophet Magaya has sourced his equipment by cleverly combining the best of the two nations and Zimbabwe has become one of those three nations to come out as a clear winner.
"A factory that will produce 144 tonnes of marble per day, 1000 tonnes per week, 4000 tonnes per month, and 48 000 tonnes per year is a milestone achievement. "Moreso, when the marble is of the highest global standards it will earn $100 million by year end and climb to a mouth-watering $200 million by year two.
"This is sweet news to both our national treasury and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. By the same token it is a good to our legion of unemployed and underdeveloped youths," added VP Mohadi.
He said jobs would be created at the factory, mines and in the transport and related service industry that services Yadah Marble factory.
"Government is also happy that Yadah Marble is giving a new lease of life to our established factory premises.
"Southerton will now be alive to the noise of new working machines and smoke will bellow into the sky from burning chimneys. "The time to market that, and the time it has taken Prophet Magaya to commission the marble making factory has been very short because Southerton has such many factories already standing but idle," he said.
He added that the message to industry was loud and clear.
"Rush to Zimbabwe, refurbish our factories and put plant and equipment in place to produce. And if you do so, you will reap profits from investments much quicker than expected elsewhere.
"Our population is an educated one, they can easily be trained and the skills can easily be transferred to them.
"But when investors come, know that there is Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare and a host of other cities and towns all have beckoning industrial sites," he explained.
VP Mohadi said Yadah Marble had every reason to be happy given the business friendly promises by President Mnangagwa and his forward looking Cabinet team.
He urged Prophet Magaya to take advantage of the new spirit of entrepreneurship and venture into other prospects.
"I am saying so because I am told your shareholders are in millions. You need to venture into other areas, I am told you are also into the hospitality industry. Look at that and see what you can do," he added.
Prophetic Healing and Deliverance Ministries founder Prophet Walter Magaya said the new marble manufacturing plant and mines belonged to every member of their church.
"Yadah Marble is an investment for the church members. It is not mine at all. The proceeds are going towards helping the less fortunate. I pay school fees for more than 5000 less fortunate children and the money will come from Yadah Marble.
"I also build houses for church members and the money will also be generated from there. Every Thursday, I make donations and proceeds will also come from Yadah Marble.
"We will also use the profits to construct our new church and there is absolutely nothing for my personal use. At the same time my church members are the Yadah Connect," he said.
With 3000 jobs being created at both Yadah Marble and the 28 mines under Yadah Connect, Prophet Magaya is grateful for the support from President Mnangagwa's government which has made business easier. He said they hope to generate foreign currency by exporting 90 percent of their products and selling 10 percent locally.
"We already have orders from countries like Italy, Greece, China, Dubai, Turkey and South Africa and we want to satisfy those markets. Some South African companies have asked us to polish stones for them in our factory," he said.
"It has been easy in the past 40 days because of the ease of doing business but before it was a challenge because of the draggy authorisation processes. In the past 40 days equipment has been cleared faster."
Prophet Magaya said they were adding value to 48 types of stones which are being mined locally from their 28 registered mines in the country's three provinces. Some of the mines are in Mhangura and Kwekwe.
In the factory are top of the range gangsaw cutting machines, glue diamond polishing machines.
Prophet Magaya said he has employed nine Chinese nationals who are transferring knowledge to 180 locals on how to operate machines at the factory and has given them a month to deliver.
"March 10, 2017, while praying I realised that I needed a project which can bring full economic turnaround in six months. I remembered that at some point we were looking for $4 billion. As a man who leads many people I wanted to do something that brings that money in a short space of time.
"While in Israel, I was introduced to a billionaire who specialises in marble. He laughed when I told him that I was also interested in marble.
"He thought Zimbabwe had no marble deposits. I told him that in Zimbabwe we have every mineral. This gave me the vision that I can do that. That was the main idea of creating economic turnaround with the resource that we have," he said.
Prophet Magaya said after conducting feasibility studies and tests, they realised that they had the largest marble resource worth 300 billion.
"We have marble on 600 hectares and also on 1000 hectares. Remember we have 28 mines and 48 different types of marble. We also realised that in Zimbabwe we have the biggest deposits of marble in the world. It can bring an economic turnaround on its own," he said.
He added the biggest marble company in the world based in Italy has 29 gangsaws and Yadah Marble hopes to reach or even surpass that number.
"We have three gangsaw machines which have huge motors. In six or seven months we want to own 34 gangsaw machines and become the world's biggest marble supplier," he added.
He said they can also make cups, tubs, salt shakers, spoons, necklaces, tables, stove covers, soap and towel holders, and anything that can be made from marble stone. He added that operations start tomorrow (February 18).
Speaking after the official opening, Minister of Industry, Commerce and Enterprise Development Dr Mike Bimha applauded Yadah Marble's initiative, saying value addition and beneficiation remained the core of industrialisation.
"Value addition will create employment in terms of processing that takes place at the factory and in mining which is the first stage in processing.
"We have a number of structures lying idle, industries which have closed or emigrated, and now we have locals that are buying those buildings, renovating and equipping them to make progress. This is development in a number of areas and I am very impressed," Minister Bimha said.
He also encouraged local businesses to generate foreign currency which would benefit other companies that do not export but require imports in order to produce products needed in Zimbabwe.
Minister Bimha also urged Zimbabweans to invest more back home to help grow the economy.
"When we talk about building or growing the economy, it's not just one person, it's all of us in our different endeavours. It could be churches, co-operative or whatever form the organisation takes. At the end of the day, Zimbabweans are taking the opportunity to grow their own economy," said Minister Bimha.
With the opening of Yadah Marble, a giant which could bring remarkable economic turnaround has indeed been unleashed.