Last week, a group of youths tried to force the Zimbabwe branch of Nestl to buy about 20 000 litres of milk from Grace Mugabes Gushongo Dairy Estate, a farm which was seized at the height of the land reform programme. Its understood the group, led by Youth Minister Saviour Kasukuwere and his ZANU PF politburo member brother Tongai, tried to force Nestl Zimbabwe staff to offload the milk tanker that had been transported from Gushongo farm. But after a four hour stand off, including intense debate and negotiations with Nestl Zimbabwe management, the tanker and the ZANU PF youth group were turned away.
Nestl ended its commercial relationship with Mrs Mugabe more than two weeks ago under intense pressure from human rights groups and concerned individuals. This was after revelations that the Swiss company was buying up to a million litres of milk a year from the Gushongo Dairy Estate, despite it being owned the First Family, responsible for the destruction of Zimbabwean agriculture through so called land reform. Although Switzerland has restrictions against members of the Mugabe regime, the Swiss government had defended Nestl Zimbabwes relationship with Mrs Mugabe, arguing the regulations they have in place only apply to firms Switzerland and not subsidiaries elsewhere in the world.
But critics immediately lashed out at the food group over its disregard for basic corporate responsibility, saying multinational support of the Mugabes would ensure their continued corrupt practices. After severing ties with Gushungo Dairy Estate, which was supplying between 10% and 15% of Nestls milk, the Mugabes got their own petty revenge by freezing the companys bank accounts, a move that has since been reversed.