“The president and the first family are a symbol of black empowerment and indigenisation; they have taken batterings as a result of the land reform programme. We are not going to accept the continued embarrassment of the president and the first family,” said AAG President, Supa Mandiwanzira.
Mr Mandiwanzira is married to Grace Mugabe’s sister and he is believed to a member of Robert Mugabe’s spy agency, the dreaded CIO.
“We are aware that there is a bunch of right wing Rhodesians who are out to derail the Inclusive government. It is that network that has forced Nestle to stop buying milk from the first family. This is unacceptable.”
AAG is a grouping of local businesspeople calling for the indigenisation of all local businesses.
AAG secretary General, Tafadzwa Musarara vowed: “We are going to make sure that Nestle buys Gushungo milk. It is clear that Nestle is perpetuating a foreign regime change agenda.”
The latest move by AGG follows a weekend fiasco in which Zanu PF youths led by Youths and Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere’s young brother Tongai tried to force the company to buy over 2000 litres of milk from Mugabe’s farm.
Nestle stopped buying milk from Nestle after the media linked the milk deal it has been involved in with Mugabe’s company last month.
A internet campaign was launched immediately describing the milk from the Gushungo farm as “blood milk”. The company bowed to pressure after human rights activists around the world threatened not to buy the Switzerland-based company’s milk if it continues to buy milk from Mugabe.
“We are going to meet the management of Nestle and tell them that we will takeover the company if they do not want to buy milk from Gushungo Dairy company and demand the indigenisation of Nestle if it insists on refusing to buy milk from the President of Zimbabwe.
We are calling on the minister of Indigenisation to takeover the company in accordance with the law which says foreigners should own 49% of any company in the country, because Nestle is segregating black people," said Mandiwanzira.
Global food leader Nestle’s Zimbabwean unit stopped buying milk from a farm owned by Robert Mugabe’s wife, Grace.
The farm was seized under Mugabe’s controversial land reforms.
Western countries vital for Zimbabwe’s recovery from an economic crisis demand political reforms, including an end to land seizures, before aid flows.
“In light of the recent controversy surrounding our relationship with the Gushungo Dairy Estate, we believe that this announcement reflects our long-term commitment to Zimbabwe while acknowledging the specific circumstances around these events,” Nestle said in a statement on its website.
Nestle’s decision to pull out of the deal came after international media coverage of the milk purchases put the company under the spotlight.
Nestle said its Zimbabwe unit had started buying the milk on a temporary basis in February 2009 because a local privatised marketing firm which dominates the milk industry was unable to make purchases during an economic crisis.
“This helped prevent a further deterioration in food supplies in Zimbabwe at that time,” said the company of its decision to purchase milk from eight farms, including one owned by Mugabe’s wife.
Mugabe’s seizure of white commercial farms for blacks have drawn heavy criticism from Western countries, who say they will not aid economic recovery until the land grabs stop and political and economic reforms are implemented.
Mugabe, who has formed a power-sharing government with rival Morgan Tsvangirai, has accused his Western foes of sabotaging Zimbabwe’s economy through sanctions in retaliation for his land reforms, which critics say ruined the agriculture sector. The President says the policy was meant to address historical land ownership imbalances.
In a September 28 statement, Nestle said its business with Gushungo accounted for between 10 and 15 per cent of the company’s local milk supply.
“Nestle has been in Zimbabwe for 50 years, working with the population of Zimbabwe and striving to maintain a long-term viable operation in often challenging conditions,” said the company.
“We operate in Zimbabwe, as we do in every country, through good times and bad. We work for the long term, in a way which has positive impact on our consumers, employees and suppliers.”
Underscoring sensitivities about land reforms, Zimbabwe’s state-run Herald newspaper carried a story accusing the Western media of pressuring Nestle to pull out of what was once one of Africa’s most promising countries.