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S. African Unit of German Firm Said to Equip Mugabe-Held Zimbabwe Dairy Plant

Dairy industry sources said the Mugabe-controlled dairy plant is getting most of its equipment from Guth South Africa, owned by Guth Ventiltechnik of Germany, in possible violation of EU sanctions against Mr. Mugabe and his inner circle

News reports and sources in Zimbabwe's dairy industry said Thursday that Guth South Africa, a subsidiary of Germany's Guth Ventiltechnik, may be in violation of the sanctions imposed by the European Union on President Robert Mugabe and his family by supplying equipment to Gushungo Holdings for a dairy plant in the Zvimba communal lands, Mashonaland West.

Sources in the National Association of Dairy Farmers said Gushungo, controlled by Grace Mugabe, wife of the president, is building the US$13.5 million facility near Mr. Mugabe's Zvimba rural estate.

Dairy industry sources said the plant is getting most of its equipment from Guth South Africa, owned by Guth Ventiltechnik. The EU, of which Germany is a member, recently renewed economic sanctions on Mr. Mugabe and some 200 other officials of his ZANU-PF party over alleged human rights violations and election rigging.

Johannesburg-based political analyst Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni told VOA Studio 7 reporter Gibbs Dube that the German subsidiary is one of a number of firms that often breach sanctions imposed on rogue states.

“It indicates that some international companies are able to breach protocols of the European Union without being punished," Ndlovu-Gatsheni said.

Directors of Guth South Africa declined to comment and Mr. Mugabe's spokesman, George Charamba could not be reached for comment.

Gushungo Holdings was embroiled late last year in a dispute with the Zimbabwean unit of Swiss-based multinational Nestlé, which had stopped purchasing milk from Gushungo when the supplier relationship was brought to light by human rights activists.

Nestlé briefly halted operations late last year after being strong-armed by senior ZANU-PF officials over the decision to sever relations with Gushungu. Nestlé came to an agreement with the government under which the industry minister offered Nestlé assurances as to its operational independence and safety of its staff.

The Mugabe family seized the former Foyle Dairy Farm in Mazowe from white commercial farmer Ian Webster under the controversial land reform scheme.