Paul Matambanadzo was one of the prominent transport operators in Zimbabwe. His poor peasant family could not afford to educate him so he left school after Standard 3. After working as a farmhand at the age of 13, Matambanadzo later found work as a cook in Salisbury.
He was born in 1936 at Domboshawa, Goromonzi. Educated at Chiutsa School, Mt Darwin. In 1955-1956 he worked as a bus conductor, then driver for Maziveyi. In 1958 granted permit to operate a bus service between Hartley, Sinoia and Sipolilo. After overcoming financial problems bought own bus and drove himself. Using profits from this acquired a second bus…today is managing director of Matambanadzo Bus Services which operates 75 passenger and 16 goods transport permits. Owns and manages Matambanadzo Store in Sipolilo and Mt Darwin. Also owns Mafenyatsela Bus Services in Botswana. He was married to Creacie Matambanadzo and they stayed in the industrial of Pelandaba Suburb, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe before relocating to Highfield in Harare. They had four children and their first born was Isabella Matambanadzo.
1954 was particularly defining to him as he found work as a bus conductor at a bus company owned by Maziweyi. It was his experiences at Maziweyi, where his brothers colluded to defraud him, that shaped his attitude towards his own venture.
He decided to quit his job and set his own business. His journey was not rosy. An Indian businessman who had promised to help him disappeared with his savings (2 500 pounds). He was later helped by a white businessman Mr Davidson, the owner of Simms Electrical, to set out on his own. His business model spelt his success.
He spread his service to areas that were previously not serviced because of bad roads by undertaking to build bridges and repair them. As a result, he created a huge catchment area for his company.
His buses were faster and were on the road more hours a week. They also carried the greater number of passengers, his average loading rate was 75 percent capacity. He only bought new buses and would get rid of them after three years only. This significantly cut costs. Because of his astuteness, many competitors sold their route permits to him.
In 1967 he opened his first bus depot in Salisbury, followed by one in Bulawayo in 1968 and Chiredzi in 1972. By that time, he had 67 buses. Also through his ingenuity, he was considered the sole African entrepreneur to make inroads in the exclusively white sector of goods transport.
Matambanadzo built up a fleet of 16 lorries and became the only African carrier to operate abroad in Malawi, Zambia, South Africa and Mozambique. It is believed that in the 1970s, he had 21 buses in his Malawi enterprise alone.
Key highlights of his business
- He had an advisor and accountant: one Mr Elliot.
- His bookkeeper, Mr Peter Sotetse, was from Botswana
- He took on African school-leavers and his workers were well paid according to the precise number of hours worked, overtime, bonuses and deductions.
- Unlike Makomva, he never tried to browbeat his workers.
- He also outsourced knowledge from European experts
- Through the instructions from his lawyer, Mr Nezim Franco, he managed to establish one of the biggest detective agencies in the country, including his own inspectors.