Nestl ready to buy Mugabe milk again

nestleHARARE International food giant Nestl has apparently agreed to a convoluted deal that could see it once again buying milk, indirectly, from Grace Mugabes Gushungo dairy estate.

The international group has resumed operations in Zimbabwe after assurances from the unity government that the safety of the companys staff would be guaranteed. The company, at the end of last year, shut down its processing plant over safety concerns, after growing harassment and ?intimidation from groups of Mugabe loyalists, including some government ?ministers.

The groups had been trying to force Nestl to resume buying milk?from Gushungo farm, which was seized at the height of the land reform programme and handed to Grace Mugabe. Nestl came under pressure last?October to cut its commercial ties with the farm.

Shortly after the groups decision in October, the companys bank accounts were frozen by the Reserve Bank in what was described as a petty retaliation. In December, ?two Nestl executives were briefly detained and questioned by police in an attempt to force them to accept a shipment of milk from Gushungo. Industry Minister Welshman Ncube said last week he had met with Nestl Zimbabwe and national dairy officials, who agreed that the milk from Gushungo should be bought by local processors. For its part, government has given its assurance on the safety of staff and management at both Nestl Zimbabwe and Gushungo Dairies, Ncube said.

Nestl has not given details of the agreement, but has insisted it will not be buying milk directly from the Mugabes. Instead, it has been suggested the milk will be bought by other contracted milk dealers, with whom Nestl already has commercial arrangements.

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