#mugabe estate in sorry state

via Mugabe estate in sorry state March 7, 2014  By Chris Muronzi

On arrival at what was once a part of Interfresh’s Mazoe Citrus Estate in the Mazoe farming area, maize seed greets the eye and fools the unsuspecting traveller of the actual situation on the ground.

The maize seed acts as some kind of security barrier blocking the prying eye of the passing travellers along the busy highway from seeing behind the scenes.

A quick drive around the farm paints a gloomy picture of the situation at the farm. Although part of the farm is utilised with a porton of it under maize and potatoes for the current season, the estate is now a pale shadow of its former self.

What was once a vibrant lemon orchard on the same farm is now a wretched waste land with either lifeless and dry fruit trees or severely wilted lemon trees. Conveniently, and as if for the avoidance of doubt, on one of the trees is evidence that these were once lemon trees. In the absence of these very small marble-sized lemons, one would be forgiven for thinking the trees are only good for firewood.

In its better days, the orchard fed lemon juice into the Mazoe juicing plant, once a supplier of a citrus juice for the famous Mazoe orange crush manufactured by Schweppes Zimbabwe.

At this rate, the 1000 plus workers of Mazoe Citrus fear finding themselves unemployed.

The new owner of the land, Grace Mugabe, President Robert Mugabe’s wife, seems more interested in charity work, judging by the hectarage planted.

Just this week, pictures in a state-owned daily, depicted Grace in the company of a former Ghanaian leader’s wife, showing off her charity work.

But a few kilometers from where she built a school and an orphanage is what is left of Interfresh’s Mazoe citrus estate, a former source of livelihoods for the community.

Now, Mugabe has been allocated more land of the estate. Adjacent to the farm is vast land, about 870 hectares under various crops and citrus orchards.

Unfortunately, Interfresh, the owners of the land will not be able to reap the crops this season as the powers-that-be are in the habit of literally reaping where they did not sow.

In the first land seizure, they took all the crops from the 1 600 hectares, which were ready for harvest leaving Interfresh on the precipice.

Curiously, the latest occupation of the estate will be the death knell on an otherwise viable business enterprise. It doesn’t end with viability problems at the estate.

Already, the move has blocked external lines of credit to the firm and the troubled Southern African country after some of its traditional financiers, including Industrial Development Corporation South Africa (IDCSA), raised concerns over rising risk as the company struggles for survival.

The land grabs have left Interfresh tottering on the brink of collapse, while investors are scurrying for cover fearing their money will sink in an increasingly unviable enterprise being destroyed by the unceasing land confiscations.

Mugabe, on the other hand, stands accused of presiding over the economic decline that has ravaged the economy since independence from Britain in 1980 throwing more than 80% out of employment.

Documents show Interfresh has total land holdings of 3 800 hectares. Grace has taken 870 hectares (23%), leaving Interfresh with 2 930 hectares (77%).

Of the 3 800 hectares, only 1 067 hectares is arable. Grace grabbed 414 hectares (39%) of arable land, leaving Interfresh with 653 hectares (61%).

This latest land acquisition by the First Family effectively renders Interfesh unviable, compromising its ability to pay back IDCSA its loan administered by the state-owned Agribank.

Interfresh’s total budgeted revenues plunged to US$8,7 million from US$10,4 in December 2012 after the first seizure in 2012. The actual turnover dropped to US$3,1 million compared to the budgeted turnover of US$10,4 million.

The developments have unnerved IDCSA, who advanced a US$30 million line of credit to Agribank, which on-lent US$5 million to Interfresh.

IDCSA in March last year sent a delegation to Zimbabwe to protest against escalating political or country risk hitting Interfresh.

Financiers such as PTA Bank, Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), Afrexim Bank, African Development bank (AfDB) and IDCSA are unnerved by the land seizures. Analysts say the Mugabe land occupation does not help portray the country as a safe investment destination.

Unfortunately, these same financial institutions are the ones currently oiling the economy through lines of credit to banks and institutions of national interests. If anything it shows blatant disregard for property rights, analysts say.

For instance, IDCSA was on the verge of finalising a line of credit to a local institution, but has now frozen the facility as sovereign risk rose in light of the Interfresh problems amid concern it could throw in good money after bad.

Zimbabwe continues to experience a liquidity crunch that has hampered government’s efforts to resuscitate the ailing economy.

DBSA and IDCSA share the same shareholder — the South African government — and this is causing grave concern in Pretoria.

To make matters worse, the seized land housed 52% of the assets, both biological and immovable, leaving the total assets of US$11,7 million, suffering a US$5,7 million impairment on the balance sheet.

So concerned is IDCSA with the US$5 million loan that they sent a delegation to Harare and indicated to Agribank and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe that the institution wanted to reconsider its local investments.

African Agriculture Fund (AAF), an equity partner in Interfresh, is a US$243 million fund focused on SMEs, was on the verge of investing more into the company and has frozen these funds.

All this comes at a time Zimbabwe is battling to attract foreign direct investment and portraying itself as an investment destination where property rights are respected and protected.

As part of the AAF deal, the local community would have benefitted after the fund set aside €500 000 in technical assistance to small scale farmers.

Owing to the incessant land seizures Interfresh’s remaining assets are only US$4,6 million against US$11,7 million liabilities.

“In its current form the business of Interfresh is therefore not viable. The remaining business operations which are Mazoe Citrus juicing factory and the citrus plantations, though viable as stand-alone business units, cannot carry the total liabilities of the entire business pre-December 2012 period,” the document reads.

The land-grabs have also ruined the group’s planned capital raise as it emerged that an additional US$2,5 million in working capital from AAF that was due by January 31 2014 has now been frozen.

According to documents, AAF is under pressure from some of its shareholders who are now mulling possible legal action in terms of Bippa to protect the investment.

 

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17 comments on “#mugabe estate in sorry state
  1. Doris says:

    The so called big wigs have always reaped where they didn’t sow. Just drive round the Chegutu district which was once the prime citrus export area – and see what the quality of the oranges is now. That is, if you can find any. The citrus farms were grabbed complete with a fantastic crop, state of the art pack sheds, fuel, chemicals, top irrigation systems, generators to cope with power cuts etc. this didn’t happen overnight. To get to this standard of export quality crops and produce, took years of investment, expertise and a knowledge of the crop. Now those farms are getting more and more derelict due to greed and ignorance. THIS is called land reform. Bullish…..t

  2. Chessman says:

    Thieves, who reap where they did not sow!

  3. Doris my sister the leaves will fall again. The land will rejuvenate. The sun will continue to shine, the rains will fall, When zanu is no longer there. Keep talking as my brother FALLENZ said, for the children….

    • Doctor do little you are a poet.

    • zimbo says:

      We live in hope – but they too have children whom are tasting the lavish lifestyles – they wont give that up -

    • Doris says:

      Yea…..but we will need a sh…load of cash to renovate those farms. We don’t have that kind of cash. Hell even our clothes are still in the cupboards of our homes – well, they were when we were chased off. So the land may rejuvenate, but unfortunately not out of our pockets, or the pockets of our children. We,as former white farmers are all but broken. Not fair.

  4. Tindo says:

    Ahh ko mukaverenga hama dzavapawo mapurazi iwayo. God will act in His time.

  5. Nyoni says:

    The wages of sin is death. If none of us has sinned no one will die. So no matter how much möney or how little one makes we eventually will go in the same ground with the same worms eating our flesh the same way. So Bob and co thats food for thought wouldn’t you say.

  6. Bee says:

    Most of the oranges in the shops are being imported! That is why they are so expensive! Isn’t that insane!!!

    • Parangeta says:

      Our family used to farm north of Bindura and driving through the Mazoe Citrus Estates was thrilling. I still remember the scent of orange blossom, the lemony, shiny green leaves and heavy fruit laden branches. To bite into a sweet, juicy Valencia orange after playing rugby, was a God given pleasure – all gone now!

  7. Roving Ambassador says:

    The unfortunate thing is that, they are teaching their kids that its ok to loot from the state. Evindanced by the amount of state funding used in sprucing up the wedding. They are busy grooming a bunch of robbers for the next generation of zanoids. We really need to get rid of the lot.
    The culture of hero worshiping thieve must stop. A person is introduced as a Mu dealer, its not a dealer, its a thief. Just say it as it is. Zanoids are thieves.

    Hanzi the wedding was top notch, hay wake up, its your money that funded it and you were not even invited.
    Down with zanu.
    Down with the sale outs.

  8. Tawa Zaru says:

    Ma1!! Cry the Beloved Zimboz. Kurova mbembera rehurombo kune vanoti Land Grab was good. Hezvo Mugabe & relatives ndovave maland barons and have disregarded the”1man 1 farm policy”. Ko ihwo huori, how can the oldman Mugabe discipline vana Cashbert iye nemhuri vari mberi kwecorruption. Simba na Bona vave kutopiwa farm so,pane murungu achatoriraso atorerwa. Mirayi muone nekunzwa.. Mapurazi mazhinji akarimwa sorabeans instead of soyabeans. Koiyo poor quality of tobacco irikuauction floors, apa mafarmers achichemera highers prices for fodya iri graded to be composit grade. SHAME ON BOBO neZANU PUFUU.

  9. E Makhate says:

    Stealing is wrong. Though shalt not steal.

  10. Mlimo says:

    the problem doesn’t end with Mugabe dying – what will happen is the next round of opportunists will take over. we saw that when the whites left we had an invasion of opportunists some who didn’t pay patronage to zanupf saw their end including a few british liberals however we have to ensure the right people are brought back the people who know the land know the culture and know Zimbabwe and that may mean embracing some of our hated differences. Smith was right to say we don’t know how to rule and govern properly we have seen that for the last 34 years. so we need a qualified franchise system that is free and fair to ensure that the right people come back and invest in Zimbabwe and that may exclude many of our chinese colonial masters.

  11. UMAARI says:

    What caused people to chase Zimbabwe in particular EUs and their followers while the Zimbabwean nationals have never been put a blame to invade or interfere other countries, this means i need your mother instead of your daughter! You while people, leave African’s countries and go back to your poor lands!!

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