Report by The Zimbabwean
The University of Zimbabwe has ditched small-scale farmers who used to supply various green vegetables and chickens, and is now sourcing its requirements from Grace Mugabe’s Mazowe farms.
Grace has grabbed large swathes of fertile land on several farms in the Mazowe green belt, which is also rich in precious minerals.
Well-placed sources at the university told The Zimbabwean this week that the deal to procure vegetables from Grace’s farms was facilitated by the vice chancellor, Levy Nyagura, who is also believed to have facilitated Grace’s attainment of a controversial PhD last year. President Mugabe, who is the Chancellor of the university, is Nyagura’s employer.
“I think this deal must have been sealed at the first lady’s birthday bash in June where our vice chancellor was one of the invited guests.
“I am saying this because the university started receiving chickens and vegetables from Grace’s farms in that same month,” said a source at the university who spoke strictly on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation.
According to the source, Grace’s farm is supplying 20 tonnes of chickens to the university every month plus a variety of fresh farm produce which includes potatoes and tomatoes.
Local small-scale farmers who used to supply the country’s top university with vegetables have started counting their losses following the university’s decision to terminate their supply contract in favour of outputs from Grace.
“A lot of our traditional suppliers are now out of business following Grace’s entry into the university market. We suspect underhand deals because the system of tendering that the university has been practising all these years was completely disregarded in this case,” added another inside source.
Gushungo Dairy, jointly “owned” by Grace and her husband, has been largely kept in business by the support of the army and police who are major customers.
The dairy’s manager, Albert Nhari, recently inadvertently let the cat out of the bag when he told dignitaries touring the company that Mugabe and his wife were indebted to the country’s securocrats for helping them keep their business afloat.
“I must also thank Police Commissioner General Chihuri as well as Army General Constantine Chiwenga,” said Nhari.
“Their organisations continued to support us by buying our products even when nobody was willing to be associated with anything to do with President Mugabe and Zanu (PF).
“These two organisations (army and ZRP) did not stop doing business with us even when we were under severe sanctions that almost brought our economy down,” he said.