Imbizo Shisanyama Mall of Thembisa

Tembisa is shrouded in sorrow and mourning as the iconic Imbizo Shisanyama at the Mall of Thembisa closed its doors for the final time on Sunday, May 28th, 2023.

This closure marks a profound loss for the community and deals a severe blow to the township economy, leaving a trail of disrupted supply chains and countless jobs lost. The impact of this closure is catastrophic.

At the center of this heartbreaking development is Rita Zwane, affectionately known as MaZwane, the matriarch of the township economy. Imbizo Shisanyama at the Mall of Thembisa served as the anchor restaurant in a retail landscape typically dominated by corporate brands, making it the pinnacle of MaZwane’s African dream.

The restaurant even received the prestigious Best Restaurant Design award in the SA Council of Shopping Centre’s Retail Design & Development Awards in 2020, solidifying its success. After tirelessly working for 26 years to build a sustainable legacy for her family and give back to the community, MaZwane finds it difficult to swallow this bitter outcome.

“We are heartbroken,”

Rita Zwane

“We did everything we could to keep the Mall of Thembisa outlet open, but it wasn’t enough. We survived the Covid-19 lockdowns, remaining open throughout the pandemic to ensure our staff and suppliers had an income. However, this decision has taken a severe toll on the business. Despite enduring this cruel blow, we persisted. But to close now is utterly devastating.”

In the midst of her grief, MaZwane raises poignant questions that demand answers. She wonders where the pandemic relief funds meant for the township economy went, expressing her disappointment and feeling abandoned by a government that the community has supported for many years. As a leading figure in the township economy, MaZwane applied for financial support but received no assistance, leaving other small business owners disheartened and questioning their own chances of survival.

The township economy, which relies heavily on businesses like Imbizo Shisanyama, is suffering greatly. MaZwane highlights the lack of municipal services, dilapidated infrastructure, high crime rates, and load shedding as additional burdens hampering economic growth. These challenges continue to cripple the township economy, resulting in more businesses shutting their doors and further endangering the nation’s well-being.

Despite the painful reality, MaZwane remains determined to keep fighting and rebuild. She reflects on the resilience of the South African people, acknowledging the immense challenges they face in the aftermath of the pandemic. MaZwane recognizes the need for support from both the private sector and the government to uplift businesses and revive the township economy.

pictures supplied

Imbizo Shisanyama played a pivotal role in reshaping the South African food and beverage industry, rekindling pride in African culture and heritage. MaZwane’s visionary leadership and passion for African cuisine transformed the township tourism industry and inspired numerous small and medium-sized enterprises (SMMEs). The impact of Imbizo Shisanyama’s closure at the Mall of Thembisa is not only devastating for MaZwane and her dedicated staff but also for the entire community.

Imbizo Shisanyama at Midrand Mall and Busy Corner Imbizo Shisanyama, will not be affected by the closure.

Amid this painful chapter, MaZwane expresses gratitude for the private sector support she received from Jason McCormick at MPD and Exemplar REITail. Their commitment to uplifting township entrepreneurs offered a lifeline when the business faced vulnerability.

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