Zimbabwean main opposition gang-up on Scandinavian-investor owned dairy company

Christian Victor Bernau

MDC Alliance is calling on Zimbabweans to boycott Dendairy (Pvt) Limited products to protest the company’s bid to dislodge Chilonga villagers from their Chiredzi ancestral land to make way for a government-sanctioned grass project by the under-fire firm.

Dendairy is partly owned by a private investment firm, Spear Capital, based in South Africa and supported by the Scandinavian fund.

“The exceptional Dendairy anchor of the Zimbabwean market positions it for strong growth and it suits us because we are targeting export markets within the region”, said Christian Victor Bernau.

Dendari has progressed very quickly and puts on the market today, products that are beyond Zimbabwe are marketed in Mozambique and Zambia.

The development comes shortly after the opposition party challenged the “unconstitutional” displacement of the villagers to pave way for the 10 000 hectare Lucerne grass project by the private company.

Speaking to the media Thursday, MDC Alliance deputy spokesperson, Clifford Hlatshwayo said the biggest win for Zimbabweans would be to see their compatriots being spared from the displacements.

“This is not just a campaign, it concerns people’s life issues and we have to stand together to achieve this.

“Dendairy must abandon that project in Chilonga and look for another area to grow grass. You cannot remove people and replace them with grass,” he said.

The MDC Alliance official urged the Zanu PF led government to look for alternative land since the country has huge tracts of underutilised land.

“MDC Alliance shall work with the community and all stakeholders to pursue this agenda for the people of Chilonga.

“We will employ a number of constitutional measures and approaches to stop these Zanu PF planned evictions. We will stop at nothing, together we will achieve it,” Hlatshwayo said.

Clifford Hlatshwayo

He added that the MDC Alliance leadership was already engaging the affected community in line with the party’s social democratic values of justice, solidarity and freedom.

The campaign is running under the #SaveChilonga, #Boycott Dendairy and envisages millions of Zimbabweans snubbing the company’s products.

The development comes after the party’s local government secretary, Sesel Zvidzai argued the evictions were arbitrary and illegal as Section 71(3) of the Constitution did not allow for the deprivation of property for commercial purposes that are not beneficial to the community.

MDC Alliance has accused the government of pursuing policies that impoverished the poor while violating their livelihoods, cultural practices, dignity, land rights, and indigenous knowledge systems.

Founded in 2004, Dendairy has expanded rapidly, growing its revenues more than 30% a year, with each of its product lines being ranked either first or second in its category within 18 months of launch. It sells Maas, UHT milk, UHT flavoured milk, Yoghurts, Ice Cream and Fruit Juices.

Dendairy investors Spear Capital is a Scandinavian-backed private equity investment company that targets investments in businesses that are well-positioned to benefit from the growth in the sub-Sahara, with a particular focus on the FMCG, Manufacturing, and Processing, Financial Services and Technology, Media and Telecoms sectors.