Nestlé spokeswoman Brinda Chiniah said Industry Minister Welshman Ncube provided the multinational with a written guarantee that the government will ensure staff security and prevent interference in Nestlé’s activities.
On Tuesday the Minister also repeated his blame on Western media saying that the high-profile dispute between Swiss-based Nestlé’s operating unit in the country and a business controlled by the family of Robert Mugabe was "blown out of proportion by Western media."
Nestlé suspended operations in the country before Christmas after coming under heavy pressure from Mugabe’s two Ministers and party militia to re-establish a supply relationship with Gushungo Dairy Estates, controlled by Grace Mugabe, the president’s wife, which it severed in October under pressure from rights activists.
The company resumed operations on December 31 after the brokered settlement and assurances as to the safety of the firm’s managers and staff and the ability of the multinational processing unit to operate unimpeded.
A source privy to the deal told our reporter that the deal brokered by the Minister and Nestlé management was for the company to accept milk delivery from Gushungo farm through a mysterious "third party" and the managers were promised security and it is also alleged Mr. Ncube himself a beneficiary of Robert Mugabe’s farm invasions, made his own arrangement to supply his own milk from his cattle range in Gweru.
On Monday Nestlé issued a new milk supply contract to a mysterious third party believed be a Musariri Farm in Chegutu, our source revealed.
The farm is owned by the wealthy Zanu PF businessman Tobias Musariri. He owns an abattoir that supplies meat to the Zimbabwe National Army and most of the top hotels in Harare and he does not own a Diary farm.
Tobias Musariri owns a large track of land in Hwange called Deka range together with United States based Mabel Dete, who is believed to be close to officials in government. They both operate a registered safari company called Asitroc Investments.
Tobias Musariri’s brother Munyaradzi, an Assistant Police Commissioner and "War veteran" who has been involved in numerous crimes in Mashonaland West, and he is responsible of many recent farm invasions in the province, was one of the Senior police officers behind the harrasement on Nestlé management.
A statement issued by Nestlé announcing the resumption of operations said: "The company reiterates its commitment to source milk exclusively from its contracted farmers." A Nestlé spokesperson declined to expand on this.
Minister Ncube said the dispute was blown out of proportion as such disagreements arise in the course of business.
But the case of a business deal involving the wife of the President assisted by hooligan cabinet ministers, Senior police officers and party militia forcing a private company to buy milk from an invaded farm is unprecedented.