STAFF at Mara Phones in Maponya Mall, Johannesburg, had no knowledge that the Mara manufacturing plant in Durban’s Dube TradePort, which was the only local producer of smartphones, was closed and being auctioned.
Staff admitted, when called by Business Report yesterday, that they faced an uncertain future after reading in the media of the planned auction of the factory, and their immediate problems were an inability to offer clients repair facilities, while they had no idea where their new stock would come from, or even if the shop would remain open.
Mara Corporation, an international multi-sector business with interests across 24 countries including 22 in Africa and a claimed staff of about 11 000, launched the new smartphone factory with a planned investment of some R1.5 billion in 2019, with the help of financing from the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC). Last April, the company announced it had been recognised as the preferred supplier to the government of smartphones for the next five years.
Yesterday it emerged the factory was empty and being auctioned by Park Village Auctions, along with the contents of the factory, on a mandate from the IDC and Standard Bank. The IDC did not respond to questions at time of going to press.
Mara has another smartphone manufacturing plant in Rawanda, which it opened just days ahead of opening the plant in Durban. The factories both made the Mara X and the Mara Z Android phones. – IOL