FORMER Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor and businessman Gideon Gono has acquired a majority shareholding in The Heritage School (THS), one of the country’s leading private schools.
The elite institution, which abuts the exclusive Borrowdale Brooke estate, was founded by the Austin and Pangeti families, who each owned 50 percent.
Through his Family Foundation, Gono now owns a 76 percent stake after purchasing 50 percent shareholding from David Rodney, Janet Austin and their son Thomas William. He acquired an additional 26 percent interest from the Pangeti family.
The Pangetis – George, his wife Evelyn Sandra and son George Jnr – retain a 24 percent stake. The transactions were concluded for an undisclosed amount of money and the terms of the deals were also not immediately revealed.
The Austins and the Pangetis – long-time family friends of the former CBZ Holdings chief executive – retain their positions on the school’s reconstituted board.
“My association with THS dates back to the day the first foundation brick was laid in 1996. I subsequently brought my twin girls, Pride and Praise, here for their secondary education from 1999 to 2004. Gideon Jnr was here from 2002-2004,” Gono said at a takeover ceremony attended by the school’s academic and non-academic staff yesterday.
“The vision and passion to get involved in the education sector of our economy was born from my own humble beginnings before independence so today marks a realisation of the vision, a vision that seeks to see The Heritage School transform itself to become the best educational institution in Zimbabwe by the year 2020,” he said.
“This will be achieved by nothing else other than the dedication and determination on the part of everyone associated with THS from the academic staff, parents, students, non-academic staff, our bankers and associates in the field of education locally and abroad,” the former Central Bank boss said.
With a combined enrolment of 1 400 – across infant, junior and senior departments – THS was established in June 1996.
Gono, who will not sit on the school’s board of governors, has since appointed ex-Standard Chartered Bank senior staffer Julius Chikomwe as chairman of the board.
The practicing lawyer and ex-Zimbabwe Open University councillor would be joined by Richard Mukurumbira, a robotics and renewable energy PhD holder, and Harvard University lecturer Stanford Chibanda.
While Chikomwe is a law and finance graduate from the Duisenberg School of Finance in Amsterdam, the latter two also bring massive credentials to the board through their experience gained in Australia and the United States.
Meanwhile, Jane Austin has been appointed deputy chairperson with responsibility for establishing beneficial networks for THS and Gono said the school would maintain a close working relationship with the Primary and Secondary as well as Higher and Tertiary Education ministries.
“As a school, we must aspire to be a leading school in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (initiative)… agriculture, and other purely academic subjects,” he said, adding “this explains the makeup of our board and we will ensure that there is a robotics science, and IT discipline that is second to none… beginning next year”.
Asked about how the deal was financed, Gono could only say “it has been financed in our minds and by bringing the future into the present”.
A former tea maker, the Harare businessman kick-started his 41-year career through private studies to become – among other achievements – University of Zimbabwe chairman and RBZ governor, serving between 2003 and 2013.
In June, Gono was appointed chairman of the Zimbabwe Special Economic Zones Authority. He was, until recently, the majority shareholder of The Financial Gazette, from which he has since divested. – Fingaz