Empowerment and Indigenisation Minister Saviour Kasukuwere and Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Joseph Made, all senior members of President Mugabe’s ZANU PF party, descended on Nestle’s factory in the capital Harare last Saturday and demanded that the food manufacturer takes in a tanker of milk from Mugabe’s farm.
Kasukuwere and Made, who also serve as President Robert Mugabe’s farm manager were accompanied by two senior police officers namely Chief Superintendent Chrispen Makedenge and Detective Inspector Henry Sostein Dowa.
Makedenge, the officer commanding the Law and Order section of the Harare Police Station and Dowa have been associated over the years with the arrest of opposition politicians, journalists and human rights activists.
Also in town was Farai Mutamangira, the Affirmative Action Group (AAG) Vice President and Harare lawyer. The AAG has in the past threatened to take over Nestle if it continues to refuse to take milk from Grace Mugabe’s Gushungo Farm.
The delegation which had a heated exchange with some Nestle officials at the factory accused the Swiss owned company of supporting “economic sanctions” imposed by Western governments on President Mugabe and his lieutenants by stopping the purchase of the milk from Gushungo Dairy Farm which is owned by Grace Mugabe.
The Nestle officials reportedly told Kasukuwere and Made that they were taking the milk supplies under duress and not out of their own volition.
No Nestle officials were available to comment on the latest turn of events.
It is reliably understood that officials from Gushungo Dairy Farm delivered a second tanker to the Swiss multinational firm last Sunday.
Reports that an official from Nestle had been arrested on Monday could not be confirmed late Monday.
The multinational company stopped buying milk from Grace Mugabe’s Gushungo Dairy Estate in October. At the time of the termination of milk purchases, the food manufacturer stated that it had bought the milk supplies to help the country as its dairy industry neared collapse. Nestle also stated that it had been buying milk directly from Gushungo after local processors could no longer do so.
Nestle’s purchases of milk from Mugabe’s farm provoked outrage in Britain and South Africa with a rights group in Zimbabwe’s southern neighbour starting a campaign for a consumer boycott of the firm.
Grace Mugabe is subject to European Union and American sanctions barring the transfer of funds to her.
Nestle has been operating in the troubled southern African country for the past 50 years, working with the population of Zimbabwe and striving to maintain a long-term viable operation in often challenging conditions.