Karoi Leaders Urge Tobacco Firms to Invest in Local Development

by Adenike Adeodun

Community leaders in Karoi, Mashonaland West Province, have publicly voiced concerns about tobacco companies neglecting their corporate social responsibilities despite profiting significantly from tobacco sales.

During a recent community engagement hosted by Pastors Fraternity and Hurungwe Community Radio and supported by the Media Centre, attendees called for tobacco companies to reinvest in the region that contributes to Zimbabwe’s tobacco production, a major foreign currency generator for the country.

Trymore Chinembiri, chairperson of the Karoi Urban Residents Association, criticized the companies for their absence in local development: “These companies make their profits here during the tobacco season, yet leave no positive mark on Karoi’s development. We see no reinvestment in the community, which is disappointing.”

Chinembiri urged the Karoi Town Council to demand better corporate citizenship from these businesses, outlining specific community needs such as the construction of public toilets, the donation of waste bins, and the installation of solar-powered boreholes in the central business district.

Kudakwashe Chigumo, Council chairperson, emphasized the importance of engaging with all tobacco entities operating in Karoi to elevate the town from its “ghost status” caused by corporate neglect.

The discussion also covered environmental concerns, with Zimbabwe Tobacco Growers Association president George Seremwe noting the industry’s impact on deforestation. According to a report by Newsday Zimbabwe, he proposed the use of coal at subsidized rates for farmers as a step toward environmental rehabilitation.

Seremwe stressed the urgency for corporate accountability, saying, “Tobacco companies must fulfil their social responsibilities and contribute to our community’s development.”

This call to action comes as tobacco export volumes hit 153 million kilograms, generating over $758 million this year, marking a 28% increase in tobacco-related earnings for Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe’s position as the largest tobacco producer in Africa and the sixth globally underscores the industry’s potential for driving economic and community development in the region.

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