ACTING President Emmerson Mnangagwa has sensationally claimed that he personally protected scores of white commercial farmers still on their land despite Zanu PF’s drive to repossess all white-owned land and redistribute it among black farmers.
Speaking during a memorial service to celebrate the life of Estelle Theresa Coetzee at Kwekwe Sports Club yesterday, Mnangagwa said most of the farmers still had their land because of his close connection to the Coetzee family, proprietors of Dendairy.
“I have kept this a secret, but let me tell you now: The majority of you are still here because of Neville (Coetzee) and his wife. Every morning they would be at my house bothering me left and right to protect you. If you did not know it, it’s because of the good nature of the Coetzee family, who I have worked very well with over the past 40 years, that you are still here,” Mnangagwa said.
The memorial service was attended by Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, Zanu PF national deputy secretary for administration July Moyo and Gokwe-Kana MP Owen Ncube together with hundreds of farmworkers and white farmers.
Estelle, who was born in 1941 and died on January 6, will best be remembered for her philanthropic work.
Mnangagwa said he appreciated dairy farming, hence Midlands Province took a bold stand to protect dairy farmers.
The Acting President said they convinced the party leadership of the importance of the dairy industry and now Midlands had become the largest milk producer in the country.
“Here in Midlands we stood our ground to avoid disruptions of the dairy industry and convinced the party leadership. As a result, Midlands is now the number one dairy producing province in the country,” he said.
The Coetzee family, apart from having been the founders of Dendairy, own a farm with over 2 000 dairy cattle that produce 85 000 litres of milk daily.
Their farm was invaded by war veterans and Zanu PF supporters more than five times at the height of land invasions, but the invaders were pushed out by the police.
Mnangagwa described the Coetzee family, which has been in Kwekwe for 54 years, as central in the development of the dairy industry.
“They have introduced a scheme of outgrowers where they support farmers starting in the dairy industry and produce milk which is supplied to Dendairy. Neville was also instrumental in the construction of Mbembeswani Dam which has helped the community over the years,” Mnangagwa said.
Mnangagwa said he once tried his hand at dairy farming, but later sold his cows after his then manager allegedly stole from him.
“In just less than a year, he had opened his own supermarket and because I did not want to go to court, I sold the cows and closed the dairy part of the farm,” Mnangagwa said.