PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s debt-ridden business Alpha Omega Dairy (Pvt) Ltd continues to face serious viability problems as most of its products have again disappeared from the shelves of various retail outlets.
By Wongai Zhangazha
Alpha Omega, a multi-million-dollar business located in Mazowe, is a subsidiary of the First Family’s business empire, Gushungo Holdings.
The company has been touted as a model of success of the controversial land reform programme Zimbabwe embarked on at the turn of the millennium.
The company has however been facing serious cash flow constraints which have resulted in failure to produce brands such as Appertina yoghurt flavours, Alpha ice cream and Mnandi sour milk. The First Family has been seeking fresh capital to stay afloat.
Alpha Omega products have been missing from the shelves for most of the year although they have been sporadically available.
A survey by the Zimbabwe Independent over the last two weeks showed that most leading retailers last received the products a month ago. Staff at some retail outlets however said they do not know when they last received the products.
The products could not be seen in leading outlets such as OK, Bon Marche, TM Pick n Pay, Spar and Food World branches in Harare. A few supermarkets however had Mnandi sour milk.
A worker at the company’s Mazowe offices said the company was experiencing several challenges including repairing a broken down yogurt making machine.
“We have experienced problems with our yoghurts machine which broke down recently and we are working on it and soon it will be functional. All other products are available. There has been a lot of management shake ups and a number of executives were changed so you will be seeing a lot of improvements in our services,” said the worker.
Efforts to get a comment from the Alpha and Omega management were fruitless as officials kept hanging the phone when this reporter asked questions. The Mugabe family has been looking for an investor to pour fresh capital into their business.
First Lady Grace Mugabe in November last year reportedly asked billionaire Tony Elumulu to invest in the beleaguered dairy company when he visited the country scouting for investment opportunities.
Elumulu has a net worth of close to US$1,6 billion.
Gushungo Holdings is reeling from a US$20 million debt and the situation is being exacerbated by continuous losses incurred by its subsidiary Alpha Omega Dairy.
Mismanagement and misappropriation of funds has also affected the company.
Alpha Omega’s former general manager Stanley Nhari last year said local banks, in particular the Industrial Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ) and CBZ Bank, sustained operations at the company.