Gushungo Dairy was a milk processing company located at Gushungo Dairy Estate (formerly known as Foyle Farm) in Mazowe. The plant was built after 80 newly resettled farmers were forcibly removed from farms in the Mazowe area in January 2012. [1] Products made included ice cream and yoghurt, traded under the name Alpha and Omega.

Property

The estate was formerly known as Foyle Farm was 1 200 hectares. It was transferred by the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) to the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement. Later it was taken by former president Robert Mugabe. A dairy plant was set up at Mazowe - over eighty newly resettled farmers were forcibly removed to free up the space.

Gushungo Dairy equipment was imported from South Africa for about US$15 million. The company, Alpha Omega Dairy (Pvt) Ltd, produced milk, yogurt, cheese and ice cream. At its peak, the firm produced over 400 000 litres of milk per month. [2]

Events

Attempted Bombing

It is alleged that in January 2016, police received a tip-off that Kuchata, Ngwenya, Makumbe and Pfupa were planning to bomb Alpha Omega Dairy’s processing plant and tuck shop during the night. Acting on the tip-off, the police proceeded to the farm and laid an ambush about 100 metres from the quartet’s target. Around 10pm, the detectives saw the men approaching the dairy’s processing plant and immediately arrested them. They searched them and recovered four Molotov cocktails (bombs) made of petrol, ammonium nitrate, nails and sand in 750 millilitres Chateau brand empty bottles.

Owen Kuchata and accomplices Solomon Makumbe, Borman Ngwenya and Silas Pfupa were arrested for attempting to petrol-bomb Alpha Omega Dairy farm in Mazowe. Makumbe and Pfupa were discharged on the charges at the behest of then Prosecutor General Johannes Tomana who was arrested for acting unlawfully by releasing the duo and was released on $1 000 bail with stringent conditions.

Kuchata pleaded guilty to trying to petrol bombing the dairy when he appeared before regional magistrate Mr Hoseah Mujaya in February 2016. Mr Mujaya asked if he had the right to do so and Kuchata in response said:

“Since I am representing the rights of other Zimbabweans, I had the right to bomb his private property because Robert Mugabe is causing disorder and problems in this country.”

He said he is the one who gave Ngwenya $36 to purchase the materials for making the petrol bombs. Kuchata later accepted the charge of terrorism, arguing that Alpha Omega Dairy was not a Government property, but Robert Mugabe]’s private property, hence the terrorism charge did not stick.

Prosecutor Mr Michael Reza maintained that terrorism charges were appropriate, saying the attack was not targeted at the dairy as an outfit, but at the office of the Presidency of Zimbabwe. Kuchata said if that was the case then he was denying the charges and this prompted Mr Mujaya to change the plea to not guilty.

On the terrorism charge, Makumbe and Pfupa were released before plea under the instructions of Tomana who is said to have unilaterally suggested that the two be treated as witnesses.

[3]

Closure

In June 2022, Gushungo Dairy ceased operations. The company had a US$20 million debt, forcing them sell some equipment. Grace Mugabe then sold about 700 dairy cows worth approximately S$1,4 million. Some 120 workers became unemployed. It is said that as a millionaire businessman is renting the farm, but operations have not started.

Reports are that a 1 000 pig and 6 000 chicken project at Kutamba village home, suffered a natural death as Grace neglected the projects. After the November 2017 coup, it was revealed that the Mugabe business portfolio included 21 farms, according to a government commissioned land audit. Despite the one-man-one-farm land policy of the government. [2]

Further Reading

References

  1. Dairy plant for Gushungo, The Zimbabwean, published: February 29, 2012, retrieved: August 31, 2017
  2. 2.0 2.1 Mugabe’s Gushungo Dairy Estates collapses, The Independent, Published: 17 June 2022, Retrieved: 19 June 2022
  3. Gushungo Dairy bombing saga: Suspect confesses, Herald, published: February 6, 2016, retrieved: August 31, 2017