Garikai Philemon Murambiwa Machipisa was a Zimbabwean businessman who had his first supermarket in Machipisa, Highfield. Machipisa died on 19 January 2021 and would be remembered for being an astute black businessman during colonial times running Machipisa Grocery shops, bus company among other businesses. He was a strong supporter of the liberation struggle using his resources.
He was born Philemon Murambiwa but many actually believe that Machipisa was Philemon’s real surname. Actually, his real surname was Murambiwa. The word Machipisa was a trade name assumed from his grandfather who was a vegetable trader in Rusape. The exact year that Machipisa was born is not known, but it is believed that he was born in the 1930s.
Initially, Philemon and his three brothers — Wilson, John and Rishon — joined forces and ventured into business. Their biggest influence was their mother who taught them work ethics.
In 1954 they set up their first shop as Machipisa Stores (Pvt) Limited in Highfield. Later they began to build their first supermarket in Highfield at a cost of 25 000 pounds, but this venture failed as they later filed for bankruptcy after failing to repay a bank loan.
Machipisa felt that he was being dragged by his brothers. It is alleged that his brother Wilson lived life on the fast lane and eventually committed suicide. His younger brother John was also accused of living an extravagant life.
Philemon set out on a journey of his own by initially opening a small general store in Highfield. His strategy of low prices higher returns paid dividends. In the 1960s, he also ventured into construction. His most notable project included the 100 000 pound project to build 11 one-family dwellings in Highfield, including the community centre.
In the mid-1960s, he also operated a bus service between Salisbury (now Harare) and Mutoko. Mr Machipisa grew so rich that by the end of the 1970s he owned more than 20 houses. He also bought himself a number of large farms totalling more than 20 000 hectares.
After Independence, Machipisa had become the managing director of seven companies: Machipisa Brothers, Machipisa Motors, Machipisa Stores, Machipisa Night Club, Machipisa Farming Estate, Machipisa Park Lane Hotel and Machipisa Property Holdings.
In 1980 he became a Member of Parliament in Mashonaland East on a Zanu PF ticket. He was part of the first Parliament after Independence
Garikai Philemon Murambiwa Machipisa died on 19 January 2021 aged 91.
- Darlington Musarurwa, , The Sunday Mail, Published: 12 April, 2015, Accessed: 14 July, 2020