Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

***The views expressed in the articles published on this website DO NOT necessarily express the views of the Commercial Farmers' Union.***

Obituary – Ronnie Yeatman

Ronnie Yeatman   

9th June 1937- 4th December 2014


11 December 2014

It is with great sadness yet with equal honour that I stand here today to pay testament and tribute to one of the great men of our era. Ronnie’s achievements during his career are nothing short of staggering and I make no apology for the time I am going to take to do justice to his professional life.

Ronnie began his farming career in 1954 on a mixed farm after completing his school career at Milton, as well as achieving a post graduate agricultural diploma. Ronnie as always was a quick learner and only after one year moved onto the newly formed Triangle Sugar Estate where he became a section manager for the Natal syndicate and subsequently for Huletts under Jack Hulett himself.

Within five years of starting his farming career he was offered in 1959 the position of agricultural manager for Hippo Valley Estates, a new project of which he was in charge, opening up from scratch 9000 hectares of estate cane together with 2300 hectares of settler cane. This was an exciting time and a place where new frontiers in the cane industry were being developed and both Triangle and Hippo averaged 30 hectares of new cane planting per day. During his managerial term at Hippo peak production was 300 000 tonnes of sugar per year with the added accolade of being the cheapest producers of sugar in the world. On the back of this huge success Ronnie in 1964 was appointed an agricultural advisor to the government and in that same year bought and began to develop his own private cane farm in Chiredzi which rapidly enabled him in the space of 10 years to purchase and develop three coffee farms in the Chipinge district.

Ronnie developed a system of management on his own enterprises which allowed him to pursue greater heights internationally whilst simultaneously expanding his own interests. In 1974 Ronnie was appointed the agricultural director of the Senna Sugar Estates in Mozambique, at the time the single biggest agricultural enterprise in the world employing over 15 000 people.

From 1976 to 1980 Ronnie was approached initially to consult and later project manage the Dwangwa sugar project in Malawi for the Lonhro group of companies, this project within 3 years was formed from a swamp and turned into the top sugar per hectare per month producing estate in Southern Africa.

In 1980 at the birth of the Zimbabwean independence with his own enterprises in secure hands through managers and family alike, Ronnie changed direction and purchased a thirty thousand hectare ranch in the Chiredzi area which he quickly developed into a game farm which rapidly became the focal point of the Yeatman safari empire covering 13 hunting concessions country wide and attracting a client base from all over the globe. During the development of the safari operation Ronnie became chairman of the Zimbabwean Association of Tour and Safari Operators and was instrumental in moulding policy changes with government to allow for the rapid expansion of the Zimbabwean safari industry.

Ronnie whilst developing his own interests never stopped consulting across the world and from 1983 to 2004 he was actively involved in many sugar cane projects such as the Chisumbunje sugar and ethanol study, the basis of which was used for the now operating Chisumbunje green fuel project, estates in Honduras,  estates in Mexico, the Buzi Sugar Estate in Mozambique, the Mendham Farm sugar study in Zambia, the PGBI Komati Townland Sugar Project in South Africa, the Mafambise Sugar Estate in Mozambique, the Vamagogo Sugar Estates also in Mozambique and many in between.

It must be remembered that during the process of this exceptional career Ronnie and Caroline raised five children, all now with their own families spread throughout the world all encouraged and assisted in their chosen fields by Ronnie. Ronnie was an accomplished pilot flying his own plane across the country and further afield checking on his many business interests and the management there of.

He represented his country at polo cross playing the number 2 position with a seven handy cap, he was an excellent golfer playing to a handy cap of 2. In his retirement at Borradaile Trust never to be sitting idle he very quickly became involved in finding the finance and developing the trust water project, he was involved in the trust security and his most recent endeavour was for the promotion and establishment of a safe playground for the many children of the trust employees.

Admirably Ronnie after many years of commitment and sacrifice in developing his many business operations lost them all during the land reform program, but however was never bitter but rather focused on moving forward forever looking for new opportunities and horizons.

Ronnie was many things to many people, he was a visionary, he was a man of extreme talent, extreme focus, failure was never an option and always the risk taker, he was a man of incredible self-belief and yet always wanting and willing to help anyone in need but most of all, Ronnie was a legend in his time.

Rest in peace. 


Mashonaland West mourns Haritatos

Mashonaland West mourns Haritatos   Herald 12/7/2021  Cde Haritatos Conrad Mupesa Mashonaland West Bureau THE death of Zanu PF Central Committee member and former Muzvezve

Read More »

Condolences pour in for Lay

Condolences pour in for Lay Herald 28/1/2021   Takudzwa Chitsiga Sports Reporter THE horse racing and polo fraternity have sent their condolence messages for veterinarian

Read More »

New Posts: