Zimbabwe Cabinet Minister's Restaurant Gutted By Fire

Da Guido Restaurant on fire as shown on the front page of the Sunday Mail yesterday. The restaurant is owned by ZANU PF cabinet minister Francis Nhema, whose workers appeared not bothered at all by the fire, to the extent that they did not call the fire brigade. It was the Sunday Mail reporter and photographer who ended up phoning the Fire Brigade. They took 20 minutes to arrive, and by that time, it was too late.

Harare, Zimbabwe, 26 October 2009

A restaurant run by a ZANU PF cabinet minister in the Inclusive Government, Francis Nhema, was gutted by fire on Saturday.

The fire, which is said to have started in the ovens of Da Guido Restaurant (it is an Italian joint that bakes pizzas in coal-fired ovens) also extensively damaged a bookshop owned by motivational speaker and businessman Miton Kamwendo and a Hair Saloon, whose owner apparent collapsed upon seeing smoke from the fire from a BP Service Station (Gas Station) nearby.

The Sunday Mail reported yesterday that the damage need not have been as bad as it was if the Fire Brigade had responded in time. But the newspaper's crew got there before the Fire Brigade and the Sunday Mail claims that the Fire Brigade only arrived 20 minutes after the fire started and that was only after the newspaper's reporters had phoned them.

It is not clear why the cabinet minister's staff at the restaurant did not call the fire brigade. Perhaps they are not treated well by their employer and could not be bothered to call for help as the source of their livelihoods went up in flames.

One of those eating at the restaurant on Saturday when the fire broke out told reporters:

"The employees of the restaurant wasted time by not attending to the fire. It looked like a joke but it should have been contained had they called firefighters on time."

So damaged was the restaurant (as can be seen from the photo that appeared in the paper, above) that the roof collapsed, sending patrons scampering for cover.

Ladies with their hair half-done would be seen fleeing the hair saloon, apparently, while those who had parked nearby had to rush to move their cars to less dangerous parking spots.

Da Guido Restaurant is at Montagu Shopping Centre in the Avenues, a largely residential section around Harare City Centre.

Nhema, whose family owns it, is the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Management (another useless ministry created by Mugabe to give jobs to his boys. Previously, this ministry, run by the same man, also included the Tourism portfolio, but that is now a separate ministry altogether - two salaries and packages where there previously was one. No wonder we have the largest executive in the world).


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