Mugabe’s Business Empire Collapses
The late former president Robert Mugabe’s business empire has crumpled as revealed by revelations that Gushungo Dairy Estate is being leased to a company linked to a millionaire businessman.
Another company that had collapsed is a once thriving chicken and pig enterprise at the former Zimbabwe’s strongman Zvimba home.
According to reports this week, Grace, the widow, is struggling to manage the vast estate resulting in the business falling to an estimated 20% capacity utilisation.
Zimbabwe was ruled with an iron fist for 37 years by Mugabe but was removed through a military assisted takeover in November 2017 left a large business portfolio mainly in farming with 21 farms, according to a government-commissioned land audit.
This is contrary to the one-man-one-farm land policy his administration touted while Mugabe and his family turned into notorious land barons.
Grace evicted 80 families in 2016, who were staying at part of the Gushungo Dairy Estate and ever since the death of her husband things have not be going on so well.
At the core of the late clever politicians’ estate is Gushungo Holdings, incorporating Gushungo Dairy Estate, Gushungo Dairy Parlour and Alpha Omega and they are all located in the 1 200 hectare Foyle Farm in Mazowe — 40km north of Harare.
A white ex-commercial farmer previously owned the Foyle Farm but was forcibly booted out at the height of the chaotic land reform programme. Initially the state-owned Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) ran the property before Mugabe took it after the parastatal had bought farming equipment.
Zimbabwe Independent reported that Grace was having difficulties in running the dairy business and had been forced by circumstances to lease the farm to a leading agricultural firm.
In May, the signs of financial problems began showing after Gushungo Dairy Farm auctioned five combine harvesters, five Toyota Hilux pick-up trucks and other farm equipment. Mugabe then later died on September 6, 2019.
Yesterday, the workers ecposed that the management recently announced they would soon receive payouts to allow the new owner to decide on the number of people the business needed.
Grace’s new partners set base beginning from January 2 with an initial arrangement of maize planting while the dairy part of Gushungo estate is expected to start business in the next three months.
The proposed packages have made Gushungo Dairy’s 400-strong workforce cry foul as they describe them as “peanuts”.
Mugabe’s farm manager Boydo Sokisi refused to comment before referring questions to Alpha Omega operations manager Joseph Chiputwa who also refused to respond.
“I cannot discuss such matters over the phone,” Chiputwa said.
The agriculture company announced they were in partnership with the Mugabe family but pressed further about other existing lease deals on one of the former first family’s property, it ducked the question.
However, sources close to the Mugabes said since the death of the former president, business had been seriously going down.
“Things have not been looking good at Gushungo Dairy so Grace decided to lease the business. It started in December 2020 and she will be receiving rentals,” said the source who can not be identified.
“Grace failed to keep the business afloat and it affected the 400-strong workforce as some employees have been laid off.
“Some of the workers were redundant and they had to let them go. Capacity utilisation at Gushungo had seriously tumbled to 20%.”
It is also believed that besides things falling apart at Gushungo Dairy in Mazowe, the situation is the same at Mugabe’s rural Kutama home. A thriving chicken and pig business with 6 000 egg layers and 1 000 pigs has also collapsed.
“There is not much happening in Mugabe’s businesses including the one at his rural home where he was buried in Zvimba. The situation is equally bad at other farms such as Highfied in Norton which does beef cattle farming. Ever since Mugabe died things collapsed,” added the source. Zimbabwe Independent