VILLAGERS have gone on a raiding rampage on a farm belonging to the late former president Robert Mugabe in Mazowe, hunting down and slaughtering over 1 400 cattle belonging to his family, in a which has riled former first lady Grace, TheNewsHawks can report.
The raid of Mugabe’s family project symbolises the demise of a dictator who ruled with an iron fist and fear for 37 years and the powerlessness of his wife who once stomped the political landscape like a colossus.
Mugabe’s herd has now been drastically depleted from 2 000 to 600 cattle since when the late Mugabe was ousted in a coup in November 2017 as villagers, mainly former workers, slaughter the beasts for meat.
At one time Grace, whose family seized more than 20 farms during Mugabe’s reign — including the one where the dairy is built — once proudly described her late husband and herself as model farmers. This was after the family had installed a state-of-the-art milk-processing plant at Gushungo Estate.
She claimed it was the second-biggest dairy in southern Africa, capable of milking 64 cows at a time. She also said the Mugabe family owned a herd of more than 2 000 cattle.
The plunder of cattle, the mainstay of the Gushungo Dairy business that at the peak of Mugabe’s rule was touted as a resounding success story of Zimbabwe’s chaotic land reform programme, has affected the struggling enterprise, sources say.
The sources revealed that the villagers are former workers who are still owed salaries by Gushungo Dairy which has fallen on hard times following Mugabe’s ouster by his protege, President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
This has also affected the Gushungo butchery which now hardly has any beef in stock, as recently reported by the The NewsHawks following a visit to the farm in Mazowe.
“If not stopped, the business will suffer greatly because there have been no efforts to replenish the depleted herd. Former workers are culpable for hunting the cattle at night and slaughtering them for beef. The situation has now gone out of hand,” a source said.
“It’s also sad that some artisanal gold miners have also invaded the farm and, when one asks them to leave, they start singing Kutonga Kwaro.”
The song Kutonga Kwaro(loosely translated to the liberator’s reign), which was performed by 2017 coup.
Sources said the Mugabe family is upset over the recent happenings at the farm which is already buckling under massive debts as witnessed by the auctioning of farm equipment to pay off creditors.
“The recent incidents at the farm are not just an act of mischief, but it seems some former employees always had a bone to chew with the former first family; they were waiting for the opportune time,” said the source.
Powerless and feeling besieged, the Mugabe family is currently agonising over how to deal with the stock theft, a source said.
Gushungo Dairy is now a pale shadow of its former self, with a recent visit by The NewsHawks revealing how the ailing business is struggling to produce critical products like yogurt and juices.
Once a hive of activity, it is now a derelict factory, with milking machines mute, while disgruntled workers go about their daily routine with crestfallen faces. The workers told The NewsHawks that production had drastically fallen, while simple orders now take time to process due to a lack of raw materials.
The enterprise came to a screeching halt when Mugabe was toppled as government departments, including the army and state enterprises, abandoned the business.
Before the coup, the dairy benefitted from patronage as government departments and state institutions stampeded to order milk, yogurt and ice cream to endear themselves to Mugabe. The company’s major customers included the army, police, parastatals and government hospitals.
The firm, known for scooping prizes during Zimbabwe International Trade Fair and Harare Agricultural Show exhibitions as part of an elaborate personality cult of Mugabe hero-worshipping, is now a pale shadow of its former self.