Swiss food giant Nestle to stop buying Grace Mugabe's dairy milk

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Johannesburg, Oct.2 (ANI): Swiss food giant Nestli has announced it would stop buying milk from a Zimbabwean dairy controlled by Robert Mugabe's wife, Grace.

The Telegraph revealed at the weekend that Gushungo Dairy Estate sells up to a million litres of milk a year to Nestli Zimbabwe's manufacturing plant on the outskirts of Harare.

The purchases 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.

Mrs Mugabe is subject to EU and American sanctions barring the transfer of funds to her, but as a Swiss company, Nestli is not obliged to comply with them, and Switzerland's own sanctions only apply to firms within the country, not their foreign subsidiaries.

Nestli has consistently denied any wrongdoing or breaking Swiss law, but issued a statement on Thursday saying it would stop buying Gushungo Dairy Estate's milk from Sunday.

It said it had only started buying milk from the farm, and seven other dairies, in February because the state Dairy Board of Zimbabwe had stopped doing so, and "the dairy industry was at real risk of collapse".

"Nestli 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. We operate in Zimbabwe, as we do in every country, through good times and bad," a company statement said.

But the managing director of Nestli South Africa acknowledged that there had been "a fair amount of international pressure, particularly in the UK and in South Africa".

On his first day in the post, Sullivan O'Carroll told South Africa's Talk Radio 702 that the controversy had been "quite a wake-up call for me".

Kallie Kriel, the chief executive of AfriForum, an Afrikaans-focused rights group which had launched an appeal for a global onsumer boycott of Nestli products, calling them "blood milk", welcomed the company's decision and said his organisation was uspending its campaign. (ANI)

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