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Nestle Says Reviewing Zimbabwe Situation, No Decision on Resuming Operations


Nestlé spokeswoman Nina Backes said the company has not yet decided if it will reopen the plant despite assurances from the government as to the safety of its country managers and production staff

Swiss-based foods multinational Nestlé said it is still reviewing conditions in Zimbabwe following its suspension of operations last week after it came under heavy pressure from ZANU-PF ministers to buy milk from a dairy concern controlled by the family of President Robert Mugabe.

A Nestlé official at the company's headquarters in Geneva said the multinational has been in regular contact with Zimbabwean authorities since halting operations at its Harare plant over alleged official harassment and intimidation.

Industry Minister Welshman Ncube announced late last week that a solution had been reached under which milk from Gushungo Holdings, controlled by Grace Mugabe, wife of the president, would be purchased by a cooperative which would then supply raw milk to the Zimbabwe Nestlé unit.

But Nestlé spokeswoman Nina Backes said the company has not yet decided if it will reopen the plant despite assurances from the government as to the safety of its country managers and production staff. Backes declined to spell out the company's conditions for resuming operations in Zimbabwe.

Political analyst Tinoziva Bere, who is chairman of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, said the Nestlé saga, which began in October when the Swiss company severed its business relationship with the Mugabe-controlled firm, would discourage foreign direct investment in Zimbabwe.

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