May 29, 2022

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

The empire Robert Mugabe built is collapsing like a castle built on sand

Five years ago, Alpha Omega Dairy was one of Zimbabwe’s fastest growing dairies, with a range of products dominating supermarket shelves and the streets of the country’s major cities.

Established by the former Lady Grace Mugabe on commercial farms that were seized, sometimes violently, by white Zimbabweans, Alpha and Omega boasted state-of-the-art dairy processing facilities and their products were advertised free of charge by the country’s only television channel, ZBC.

As a subsidiary of the sprawling agribusiness – Gushungo Holdings, owned by the late President Robert Mugabe, Alpha Omega was at its peak producing a variety of yoghurts, ice creams, bottled water, fruit juices and milk.

It was growing so quickly that then Agriculture Secretary Joseph Made in 2015 announced that Alpha Omega incumbents, including state-owned giant Dairibord Zimbabwe, just three years after snatched 30 percent of Zimbabwe’s milk market from its inception.

The former First Lady once described their farm as the second largest in southern Africa and claimed that they had installed equipment capable of milking 64 cows at a time.

She said the dairy was anchored on a herd of more than 2,000 cows.

It has been touted as a winning model for the South African country’s controversial land reform program that began around the turn of the millennium.

The company became a serial winner at the country’s annual trade showcase – the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair – where Mugabe threw awards on his wife’s dairy products like confetti at a wedding.

At the televised rallies of the Ruling Zanu PF party, it became routine for cameras to zoom in on ministers happily feasting on alpha-omega ice cream.

At Robert Mugabe’s communist-style birthday parties, held every year held at major venues on February 21, it became a fashion statement for top officials to be seen eating ice cream.

< p>At one of the celebrations in his final days, the octogenarian stru was photographed greedily gulping down a scoop of ice cream.

On the eve of the coup that eventually brought down Mugabe, his successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa, then vice president, had to apologize for falling ill after eating alpha-omega ice cream during one of the rallies .

Read: Mugabe Left $10 Million Real Estate: State Media

Mr Mnangagwa began dying amid diarrhea at a rally in the southern city of Gwanda handed over and was immediately flown to South Africa for treatment.

His supporters insinuated that it was the alpha-omega yogurt that caused his illness, and that didn’t sit well with his boss.

He was then allegedly alleged conspiracy against his boss, only for him to return as President a few weeks after the November 27, 2017 coup d’état.

This incident would have marked the end of Alpha Omega’s dairy market dominance and the beginning of its downfall of a business empire built by one of Africa’s longest-serving presidents like the Mugabes lost power a few weeks later.

A few years after his inglorious departure and subsequent death in Singapore in 2019, the empire that Mugabe built it like a deck of cards.

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First published by the Daily Nation.