Mugabe family courts Tony Blair associate over bankrupt Omega Dairy

First Lady Grace Mugabe has turned to Nigerian billionaire Tony Elumulu to save her family’s struggling Gushungo Holdings which is reeling under an unsustainable US$20 million debt amid theft and mismanagement at the company.

Tony Elumulu and Tony Blair

The First Lady reportedly asked the billionaire, who has a net worth close to US$1,6 billion, to consider investing in Gushungo Holdings before looking at other areas.

Elumulu was in Zimbabwe to explore possible investment opportunities in the fields of agriculture, financial services, insurance and healthcare among others. He was scheduled to meet with various captains of industry who included Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chairperson Chipo Mutasa, Schweppes boss Charles Msipa and First Mutual Life’s Group CEO Douglas Hoto, among others, but failed to do so.

Sources told the Zimbabwe Independent Elumulu was discouraged from meeting the business executives he wanted to, although he honoured his meeting with Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya.

Elumelu is an economist, investor and philanthropist who has massive investments across Africa and is the chairperson of several firms including Heirs Holdings and Nigeria’s largest conglomerate, Transcorp.

In an interview with the Independent this week at a local hotel he confirmed meeting Grace, but refused to disclose what they had discussed.

“I am here to explore investment opportunities. I have already met with the First Lady and I expect to meet other business people,” he said.

President Robert Mugabe’s family has been looking for an investor to pour fresh capital into the multi-million-dollar Gushungo Holdings, touted as a model of success of the controversial land reform programme even if it is not. The company has a US$20 million debt. The situation is being exacerbated by continuous losses incurred by its subsidiary Alpha Omega Dairy (Pvt) Limited. Mismanagement and misappropriation of funds has also affected the company.

Alpha Omega’s former general manager Stanley Nhari previously said local banks, in particular the Industrial Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ) and CBZ Bank, sustained operations at the company. The Alpha Omega Dairy plant has a capacity to process 70 000 litres of raw milk per day, but had been targeting to double raw milk output to 40 000 litres per day by year-end, from the current 23 000 litres per day.

Mugabe has expressed his frustration over the looting of his company, suggesting corruption was rife there. – ZimInd

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