Trevor Ncube interviewed with Dr Zododzai Joy Tanaka Maroveke (30) – a cousin to the late Minister – Kumbirai Kangai.

Despite having opportunities in China and Australia, and against all advise, Dr Zorodzai says she decided to go back to Zimbabwe.

Key Points

1. Dr Zorodzai is a qualified dental surgeon, founder of the Zimbabwe Hemp Trust and President of the Cannabis Association of Zimbabwe.

2. She went to Blackniston Primary and Tynwald High School, where she was a headgirl for more than two years. She was then moved to Species College where she studied sciences.

3. She says being at Species college prepared her for real life and helped her to improve her social skills.

4. After Species she says she was a maid for a Greek family in Gunhill.

5. Her brothers  were not happy that she was a maid but the job paid well.

6. She says her Boss never used to say much and that taught her a lot as she has to deliver. He was a businessman and was very organized.

7. She says being a maid started off as a joke. One day she saw an advert at five Avenue for a maid with a drivers Licence and 5 O Levels.

8. She went for the interview and when she started the job she noticed that the family already had two maids and she ended up tutoring the kids. She was earning US100 and she raised enough money to go to China.

9.She says she left for Shanghai to study linguistics and did one year of Mandarin.

10. She says she ended up being a level 5 in Mandarin when she completes the course in 2011.

11. She then went to the Shanghai School of Medicine between 2011 and 2015, graduating with a Bachelors degree.

12. She says she returned to Zimbabwe to do her internship in 2015.

13. Dr Zorodzai says it was effforless for her to come back to Zimbabwe.

14. She says most Zimbabweans in China stayed to teach English. However, she says when her grandfather, Kumbirai Kangai died, she felt she had to go back to Zimbabwe.

15. She says there was a big urge for her to give back To Zimbabwe and she felt so much pain seeing the development taking place in China and nothing happening in Zimbabwe.

16. She says one of the reasons why she wanted to go back to Zimbabwe was that in 2014, she met her grandfather, Kumbirai Kangai, and the discussion she had with him convinced her that going back to Zimbabwe was the right thing for her to do.

17. She said fellow Zimbabweans who lived in China were saying she should not go back because things are tough on Zimbabwe , the political situation is bad.

18. Her father said come home it’s your country, and her mother was supportive, but her brother was against it. He advised her to take up the opportunity in Australia and in China.

19. On how she discovered hemp, she said in 2013 she has stumbled on a dress made from hemp. She was on her way from school and she walked into a shop. The old lady in the shop told her it was made of hemp.

20. She did more research and found out that cannabis has so many aspects.

21. She discovered that even though China has the toughest drug laws, Industrial hemp was never criminalized in their history.

22. During Her research, she discovered that China holds half of the world’s patents on hemp.

23. When she returned to Zimbabwe, she discovered that there had already been conversations in about cannabis.

24. Dr Zorodzai says there is recreational, medicinal and recreational hemp.

25. She says Industrial hemp is a fibre crop that can make materials.

26.Dr Zorodzai says in Zimbabwe people were fixitated on recreational cannabis.

27. She says when she got back to Zimbabwe, her English was bad because she was used to speaking Chinese all day. However, she told her family that even though she studied dentistry, she wanted to focus on industrial Cannabis.

28. Her mother was a legal person and she suggested that they should start by lookeing at the current legislation.

29. After looking at the legislation, she then approached the government of Zimbabwe about industrial hemp.

30. Dr Zorodzai says Industrial hemp has a wide array of value chains – Bricks, automobile brake pads, paper, natural food, oils, medicines that can cure cancers. THC is what makes the difference, the psychoactive component. THC in industrial hemp are insignificant.

31. She says no one had a clue what she was talking about when she went to the Zimbabwe government.

32. One of the challenges was that In Shona there is only one word for Cannabis – Mbanje.

33. During her early research in Zimbabwe, she discovered that MP, Honourable Mudarikwa had tried to come up with the discussion  on Cannabis in Parliament and he had been laughed off.

34. In 2016, she attended a Zimtrade Expo. MP Honourable Bimha gave an opportunity for people to ask questions. She said if she could present her idea to him in his office.

35. She then met Hon Bimha in his office and he asked her to write down her proposal. She later drafted a 10 page concept note, somehow the concept note found its way to the President ‘s Office.

36. In 2016, she says she started lobbying even more. She found people were receptive to the idea of industrial hemp. She tried to lobby many Ministers of Health.

37. She says she knew  Industrial hemp was good for the country. However, she says people kept telling her that the Zimbabwe government would not listen to her.

38. In 2016 she  says she met a lawyer who told her to form an organization. That is when she founded the Zimbabwe Industrial Hemp Trust.

39. She founded the organization with her ex-husband and a friend.

40. After she started writing to government formally, in March 2017, there was a first cabinet meeting that approved medicinal and recreational cannabis.

41. There were big players who were pushing for medicinal Cannabis. They totally eclipsed her.

42. After that she kept hitting brick walls with her push for industrial hemp.

43. She realized that she had lobbied most of Mugabe Ministers, except Mnangagwa.

44. She fought her way to get a meeting with Mnangagwa. He said he will look into it.

45. She decided to take a break and travelled to Malawi, and to China. She was the first Zimbabwean to be allowed into the Malawi hemp pilot site.

46. She started Building her global network in China, Australia etc

47. Many voices encouraged her. She now had a team locally, people who came to assist on a volunteer basis. Including her brother who was now an agrinomist.

48. She says what inspires her is that she wants to make an impact, and industrial hemp can allow her to make that impact.

49. She says industrial hemp presents opportunities that can give many people a choice.

50. Although the first legislation, SI62 in 2018, did not take into account Industrial hemp. Zimbabwe became the first country to legalize Cannabis. Industrial hemp was not legalized.

51. She then decided that Hemp should be under Agriculture. She went to Perence Shiri.

52. He called her to his office to explain. After that he agreed with her that the challenge was the legislation.

53. She says she worked with Perence Shiri on ideas and on what needed to be changed, talking to many people. Sometimes she would stay late on phone with him.

54. She says their relationship became more like father and daughter.

55. On 20 September 2019 industrial hemp was legalized.

56. In October 2019, the first sowing of industrial hemp was launched at Harare central prison.

57. Still pending is for Industrial hemp to be authorized by the Ministry of Agriculture.

58. Many people knew that she was the lobbying force behind medicinal hemp.

59. When the announcement was made that Zimbabwe had legalized industrial hemp, many counties came to invest and many of them were disappointed that there were policy issues.

60. She says she was approached by many of the disappointed investors who wanted her to help them to get the policy issues sorted. She refused. Instead, she suggested that an organization be formed, which resulted in the Zimbabwe Cannabis Industry Association.

61. Some government officials were not happy that an association was being formed.

62. Early in 2020 they met with the authorities  as an association and the 40% local ownership was scraped. A foreign investor can now run a 100% ownership project. Private land use is now permitted.

63. She says there are still small issues to do with tax.

64. Dr Zorodzai says many people have been left disappointed because its not easy to get seed and to get a market. Even though the permit is only $200.

65. She predicts that in the first three years, there will be a lot of export of raw flowers and not much value addition.

66. After the legislation, she said she travelled to China where she meet the guru of hemp – who has made anything you can make from Hemp. She went with ministry of industry and commerce, Agriculture and a Chinese investor.

67. She visited the Chinese factory where they were making Denim Jeans for Levi, export.

68. She says Zimbabwe needs to position themselves in terms of industrial hemp.

69. She says when the legislation announcement came out, people started smoking weed on the street without reading the law. Information is needed for the farmers and for ordinary citizens.

70. She says while jobs have not yet been created, she is happy that the legislation has been passed.

71. She says what she has done may be her journey and she needs to pass the button to others to carry industrial hemp in Zimbabwe to the next level.

72. She says she sees herself in value addition. What she has achieved in the past 5 years was remarkable.

73. Dr Zorodzai says she never felt intimidated by the people in government, they never tried to intimidate her. She says no one tried to get a bribe or sexually abuse her. She says she is very blunt and speaks her mind, maybe that is what helped her.

74. She says to be good at lobbying, you need to understand your environment. Then you need to see who is likely to steal her ideas. She says she never shared her business proposal with anyone.

75. She says you need to sit down and map it all out.

76. When you understand your whole environment then you execute.

77. She says you need to talk to people, there are people who are her mentors, that no one knows are part of her journey.

78. She says she always asks three people on the same issue.

79. There is so much to learn from business people who have been in business for a longer time.

Books that she reads

1.The art of War (Because she wanted to be a soldier – Don’t go around not knowing who is your enemy)

2. Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill

3. Fascinating Womanwood

Next Steps

Dr Zorodzai says in future she wants to start a family (She has no child yet) , go into business and go back to law school.

Please watch the video above this Post For more details.