GWERU: During the 2016 Easter holiday, John and Lindiwe Madhubeko held a classy wedding that instantly became the talk of the town in the Midlands capital Gweru.
Blind, well-known beggars who made a life asking for alms from passers-by at Kudzanayi long-distance bus terminus, questions were asked about how the couple could afford such a lavish affair.
There had to be a benefactor and in a small town, it was not long before her identity was revealed, it was Dr Smelly Dube, the CEO of River Valley Properties.
What captured the imagination was the message that she implicitly delivered, not the resources that she used.
Dr Dube reminded us all that everyone deserves the good in life, whether visually impaired, living with a disability, orphaned, widowed, begging for an income or in any way less privileged.
Beyond making the blind couple’s special day a memorable one, Dr Dube established a cross-border business for the Madhubekos and today, the couple now owns a thriving canteen in the Ascot high-density suburb.
Dube’s philanthropism did not begin with the wedding. Neither did it end there. Her charitable deeds include supplying groceries to pensioners, widows and people living with disabilities every month.
She also empowers the less privileged to start self-help projects while paying school fees for their children.
It was therefore not surprising that when the national lockdown was implemented on 30 March 2020, Dr Dube emerged as a champion in assisting the needy whose lives were made harder each day that the painful but necessary regulations to ‘stay in place’ remained.
“How would a woman sleep knowing that she would rather kneel to say a prayer on behalf of troubled souls but without offering any tangible or monetary assistance to help the needy? Giving lies at the heart of every woman,” Dube told me as she explained the motivation behind her charity work.
She continued, “The Covid-19 pandemic had not been an easy period for locals. If it shook the richer countries, how much worse must it be for those residents left without a daily income because of the lockdown?”
Dr Dube also assisted with upgrading the Gweru Infectious Diseases Clinic which has been turned into an isolation centre, and her company, River Valley Properties, donated goods, linen and cutlery for the refurbishment of other isolation facilities in the Province.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa acknowledged her efforts.
“The President is grateful that he is not facing the Covid-19 challenges alone but that there are organisations, such as River Valley Properties, which are working hard to fight the pandemic through the provision of essential material and equipment to the health sector,” reads a part of his appreciation letter dated 30 April 2020.
In addition, to helping to equip the isolation facilities, Dube also turned an office into a mask production workshop.
Her generous contributions were further extended to struggling families in surrounding communities during this pandemic and lockdown.
Beneficiaries received groceries including 20kg packets of mealie-meal, cooking oil, soap, sugar, rice, as well as a regular stipend. Not content with supporting many families in this way, Dr Dube and her team made door-to-door deliveries to the elderly.
“We work with social welfare and youth to gather the addresses of elderly people within a given community. Then we deliver groceries to their doorsteps. Their smiles make me feel wonderful,” Dr Dube explained.
The areas covered so far include Gweru’s oldest suburbs of Mambo and Mtapa. One of the beneficiaries who is grateful to date is former football administrator, Sam Ndlondlo, who said, “Without saints like Dr Dube, difficult periods would have been hell for many of us. The day she came first I had gone for two days without food. I am a former football administrator for Midlands Province but since I left work, I had not been able to afford much, since ZIFA never gave me my dues.”
“The worst is I couldn’t even afford hospital fees when I had trouble with my eyes, so unfortunately I fell blind, which made my situation worse. Dr Dube’s generosity has reminded me that we still have thoughtful people in the community. It was also after Dr Dube’s intervention that ZIFA visited and gave me a relief package,” Ndlondlo said.
Dr Dube says these donations will continue post-Covid-19 lockdowns to allow beneficiaries to regain from the residual effects of the pandemic.
“This programme will continue post lockdown, as you have seen I spent my birthday with orphaned children in Shurugwi so that beneficiaries get ample time to get back to their feet.”
Dr Dube’s philanthropic work in and around the Midlands Province has gained her several regional and international accolades.
Of course, Dr Dube is in a privileged position as her husband, Engineer Mncedisi Dube, owns River Valley Properties and they are doing well both from Tebekwe Mine and land in Gweru that is being sold off as residential stands.
That being said, the Dubes have raised the bar with their philanthropic work and their principled position to help people in need, contributions that have earned them several regional and international accolades.