To the outside world, he was Ginimbi, the man who had made it. But within his organisation his workers knew he was a small timer, who paid employees and drivers in cash…
Genius Kadungure aka Ginimbi courted controversy in life and in death. He left many people with question marks over who he really was in life and more importantly how he made millions in Zimbabwe.
Born in Domboshava viallge in a family of four, Ginimbi started his business career by hustling in search of a decent livelihood at the age of 17. Soon he became a middleman securing gas for domestic users. Since he had a friend who worked at the Angolan Airways offices, he quickly secured his first ever contract through his friend. After signing the contract, Kadungure followed up on many gas users and that is when his fortunes turned. Within a year in the business, he was already driving and two years later he had a Mercedes-Benz S Class something considered by many locals to be a symbol of success. He went on to form, Pioneer Gasses. The company supplies gas to the commercial, industrial, public and retail sectors. The company also offers delivery services by tanker to major facilities with their own storage and also sell gas bottles in a range of popular sizes.
He went on to buy Quick Gases in Botswana in which he is currently the only shareholder. With the success of his companies, he decided to add Rivonia Gases to his portfolio followed by another business initiative called City Centre Freight. All these companies fall under PIKO Trading Group, which he is a majority shareholder. Due to the increased growth and success of his businesses, he became one of the richest young Entrepreneurs in Zimbabwe.
The above line is the other narrative reportedly given by Ginimbi to cover the real source of his overnight success.
News Hawks who have been digging into the life of Kadungure have for the first time revealed the other part of Ginimbi that he did not want the world to know.
Below is what Chris Muronzi of the News Hawks wrote:
His place of business has always been disconnected from the illusion perpetuated by the media and social media.
To the outside world, he was Ginimbi, the man who had made it. But within his organisation his employees knew he was a small timer, who paid employees and drivers in cash.
Even their attempt to defend him after his death was not based on information and facts, but threadbare claims, which could not be substantiated by evidence.
On many occasions, his employees expressed concern over whether the business would continue as a going concern if anything happened to the owner.
For instance, he never created a proper payroll system back then. On various visits in those days, the disconnect between the man and the image that was out there was always a bit of an oxymoron of sorts and paradoxical irony at best.
His biggest contribution to the fiscus was in the form of duty for the fleet of the ultra-luxury cars he imported. Even then, he did not always pay duty.
Court cases followed him over that. His smuggling activities were common tales among those who knew him very well.
Hence at the main Harare office, he must have employed no more than 20 employees. His business model was wheeling and dealing, then conspicuous consumption and flamboyant lifestyle; not wealth creation.
Thus his car collection boasted of three Bentleys, Range Rovers, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Rolls-Royce Ghost and Rolls-Royce Wraith, reduced to ashes in the fateful accident all worth an estimated US$5 million.
In 2014, he had more than three Range Rover SUVs. At the time, he confessed to being a Ranger Rover fan.
In a video on YouTube wherein he parades his house and his car collection, he came through as a man, who lived for the moment.
Asked if he had favourite songs from yesteryear, he said he had none. “I am not like that. I don’t live in the past. Ask me about my favourite songs now. I am more of a now person,” he said in the video.
The way he contemptuously brushed away the question it was as if he had a past he did not want to confront, a ghost that he had never fully exorcised.
He had left home as a 17-year-old in search of a better life in the city and he had found it. His half-sister said he smuggled cigarettes at the beginning.
By many accounts, his meteoric rise started as soon as he had arrived in the big city, Harare.
Although many of his friends paint a picture of an accomplished businessman, those closest to him knew he was never a formal businessman.
As a child, he was the “sort of child neighbours didn’t want close to their children”, he told an interviewer in 2014.
His father, Anderson, corroborated Ginimbi’s own account of his childhood, saying of his four kids, Genius was the naughtiest.
Anderson credits that streak for his son’s success.
The inclination to break the rules did not end in childhood it would seem. Armed with utter disregard for rules in a country thriving in corruption and where the corrupt do so with impunity, it was a fertile playground for individuals like Genius.
At Indeni, he discovered lax systems and a workforce willing to earn an extra buck. Instead of loading, say, 10 000kg of LPG, the staff would load 20 000kg and certify that 10 000kg of LPG had been loaded.
This was one of the deals that gave him sure and easy money in the early days. Even drivers also got in on this deal. It was easy money.
On the fuel side, the same or an improvised scheme of defrauding the government was hatched. Fuel trucks supposedly destined for the region would arrive in Zimbabwe and offload cargo and be loaded with water and either turn back with fake papers on the border or simply proceed to destination.
As a result, he had so much cash, he did not know what to do with.
Another scheme he was involved in was of taking deposits for investments in the US. Those interested had to choose how much money they wanted to invest from US$1 000 to $10 000. Others were invited to Zoom meetings for cypto-currency trading.
But after his success, Ginimbi was at his core nothing of a role model.
While his friends and ordinary people were star-struck by his money and lifestyle, he was not a role model in society.
Wheeling and dealing – including smuggling – cannot be an example of business innovation and ingenuity, even in a banana republic.
For instance, in January, Ginimbi was ordered to pay US$58 655 duty on top of another US$81 469 for his Bentley Continental GT model.
One of his companies, Piko Trading, was in July fined US$36 000 and ordered to pay US$2,5 million that it owes tax collector Zimra for VAT from February 2009 to May 2016.
The company was also fined US$9 000 and ordered to pay US$355 559 in outstanding taxes after it recorded sales amounting to US$24,3 million over those seven years.
On sales of US$24 million, he would not have accumulated the car collection on those earnings.
Ginimbi had no investment portfolio to speak about contrary to the impression he created.
He never ventured on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange or acquired a significant chunk of shareholding in any of the counters in the last decade and a half. He also did not make a play for any of the commercial real estate in the country.
In a way, the choice of asset classes he invested in betrayed his background to an extent.
Where Shingi Mutasa had excess cash, he swooped on TA Holdings, the conglomerate, when it was trading at a discount to its book value back in the day and the conditions were right.
Or how Lishon Chipango, the former Old Mutual Asset Management boss snapped up Interfresh a decade and a half ago.
Ginimbi invested in ultra-luxury vehicles. Cars only tend to accumulate value if they are limited and old. That way, they tend to appreciate value, but generally they are not an investment.
For Ginimbi, the cars were for social adventures. His friend, Brian Nyanyiwa, says Ginimbi used to come and borrow his 7 series BMW to “charm his girlfriends” back in the day.
As news of his death circulated, an outpouring of grief followed and he was in the news for more than a week.
In the end, Ginimbi was just a flamboyant dealer and not an entrepreneur – that can not make him a role model.