Sibusiso Mazibuko – A born entrepreneur
Sibusiso Mazibuko’s roots are in the Province of KwaZulu-Natal. He was born in Pietermaritzburg and then later settled close to Durban in Umlazi township. Mazibuko describes himself as a crazy person who likes challenges. “My life has been long and interesting – and I have been encouraged by a number of people to write a book about it,” he says.
Over his business career he says, “I think I am a born entrepreneur.” While still at school he bought his own bicycle through selling sweets and other items to his fellow learners. At university he was able to afford his own car through his diligent efforts.
Mazibuko did not complete his studies as he became politically active and joined Umkhonto we Sizwe when he was 18 years old. This was an underground unit that was launched in 1961 as an armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC). His particular unit, Butterfly, was very important in the liberation struggle. In 1985, although badly injured, Mazibuko, through the grace of God, survived a bomb explosion where he lost two friends.
He was subsequently deployed into various countries, the last of which was Madagascar. Here he was the head of Radio Freedom - the radio broadcast arm of the ANC. With the ending of apartheid, Radio Freedom ceased to operate. After returning to South Africa from exile, Mazibuko was involved in the development of the YFM radio station, which is still one of the most popular youth stations in South Africa. He also participated in the creation of a large media house - United Allies Media.
Since then, Mazibuko commented that he had been involved in many enterprises, some of which had been successful and others not. “Life is not always smooth,” he explains. These enterprises included agriculture and fish farming to promote food security.
The development of the Cato Ridge Dry Port is his current focus. The motivation for this project is in his desire to uplift the local community of Cato Ridge. The project’s goal is the establishment of the Cato Ridge Intermodal Facility and Logistics Hub. “This is a community driven catalytic project which is of strategic importance to both the Province of KwaZulu-Natal and nationally.
“I am not an honorary chairman, I am hands on, that is very important. I deal with strategic matters of the entire project including investment,” says Mazibuko. He has assembled a dedicated team of people who are passionate and are striving for the success of the project. He added that his role can be described as a ‘donkey’ one which is slow and methodical but will get the task completed before his presence is realised. “I don’t believe in shortcuts,” he commented.
Mazibuko emphasized that the projects would have not been able to progress without the buy in from the province and at a national level. The stakeholders include KwaZuluNatal Premier Sihle Zikalala, the KZN Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Trade and Investment KwaZulu-Natal, eThekwini Municipality, Transnet as well as the Amaximba community. “We are all proud that the project has now reached this level of recognition,” he commented.
Significantly, the role of the community is not a rubberstamping exercise but a serious presence with whom constant engagement has occurred. Commenting on the plans for the logistics hub, Mazibuko said everyone will smile. “We have serious plans for the community. We will be building a state-of-the-art hospital and an innovation centre which will assist with training youth to be employed in the logistics hub. The goal is to make this area the “Midrand” of KwaZulu-Natal,” he concluded.