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Kai Ryssdal: Speaking of international news, the Swiss food giant Nestle is being accused of aiding and abetting the theft of a dairy farm in Zimbabwe. The company has admitted buying milk from a farm run by the wife of President Robert Mugabe. A farm that was taken from its white owners. From the European Desk in London, Marketplace’s Stephen Beard has more.
STEPHEN BEARD: Nestle admits that it buys large quantities of milk from the Gushungo Dairy Estate in Zimbabwe. The property was once known as Foyle Farm before the white owners were forced out, and Mugabe’s wife Grace took over. The company says it has not broken any law by doing business with the Mugabes. Since it is based in Switzerland it’s not bound by U.S. or European sanctions. But Todd Moss of the Center for Global Development in Washington says Nestle should think again.
TODD MOSS: The spirit of the sanctions is that particular individuals and firms were actively undermining democracy and contributing toward the destruction of that country. So that’s something that an internationally-minded company like Nestle would want to take into account.
Nestle says that Zimbabwe’s dairy industry has collapsed. The company has been forced to buy milk where it can. It says if it had pulled out of Zimbabwe there would have been further food shortages and hundreds of job losses. But some expatriate Zimbabweans are not impressed. Wilf Mbanga edits a magazine for his fellow exiles in England.
WILF MBANGA: Is it morally right for Nestle to be buying milk and paying somebody who is not the owner of the farm. They are aiding and abetting the stealing of private property.
He says the seizure of almost all of Zimbabwe’s white-owned farms ruined the economy. He is now urging his readers to boycott Nestle products to protest against the company’s dealings with Grace Mugabe.
In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.
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