ONE of Zimbabwe’s largest horticultural exporting companies, Kondozi Fresh Produce, is relocating to Mozambique after the invasion of its farm by Zanu PF supporters and government offici
als three weeks ago.
Kondozi was an Export Processing Zone-registered firm but this did not save its operations from the predatory Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) which has taken over the farm. A court order was equally ineffective.
The move into Mozambique comes after government complained through the public media that Nigeria, which has been acting as a mediator in the Zimbabwean political crisis, was taking in its former white commercial farmers.
Kondozi’s abrupt closure is set to adversely affect the company’s financiers, Barclays-Fincor, Zimbank-Syfrets and the African Banking Corporation who had collectively invested about $37 billion in the project.
It exported produce to supermarkets in Britain, Europe, and South Africa.
Kondozi production director and former farm-owner, Piet de Klerk, confirmed the relocation saying it had become difficult to operate locally, adding that they had informed their financiers.
“We cannot carry on with business here and we have no intention of putting up another project in Zimbabwe,” he said.
“In fact, we have overtures from Manica, just across the border in Mozambique. The governor, Soares Nhaca, has offered to give us free land so that we can set up a business on the same model as Kondozi,” he said
De Klerk said bilateral donors had indicated that they would provide financing and equity for the relocation of the project to Mozambique.
“It’s not only Mozambique who approached us. Zambia and a number of neighbouring countries have overwhelmed us with their proposals.
“The Kondozi set-up was a unique model for the whole of Africa with the biggest out-grower base and engaging the largest pool of local community participation,” De Klerk said.
Although there have been claims that Arda would take over the farm, it has since emerged that senior politicians are using the parastatal as a front.
Kondozi, which was invaded over Easter, had kept some of its business running by collecting the produce from out-growers and exporting it through one of their subsidiaries.
Arda has confiscated four vehicles that were used by management plus motorbikes.
The Independent on Sunday attended a meeting at Kondozi which Vice President Joseph Msika and other officials were expected to address. However, none of the scheduled speakers turned up.
At the meeting, attended by over 4 000 displaced workers, Chief Marange said Msika had given an undertaking to correct the situation at the farm.
“We have been given assurances that the situation will get back to normal,” Marange said.
“We urge you to remain patient.” A fortnight ago chiefs and their headman from Manicaland visited Msika at his offices in Harare to air their grievances and he reportedly issued a directive to Manicaland province governor Major-General Mike Nyambuya that Arda should vacate Kondozi.
Msika met the chiefs in his capacity as the chairman of the Cabinet Rural Development Committee.
Reports of Msika’s directive were shot down by Information minister Jonathan Moyo, leaving Arda to continue occupying the farm.
Moyo declared that there was “no going back on Kondozi”.
De Klerk said in the two-week disturbances Kondozi had lost in excess of $60 billion worth of business and equipment.
He said they had lost over $20 billion worth of movable assets alone which included 48 tractors, four Scania trucks, five UD trucks, several T35 trucks, four privately owned vehicles that were used by management and over 26 motorbikes.