Nestlé has suspended operations in Zimbabwe, citing harassment after pulling out of a deal to buy milk from a farm taken over by President Robert Mugabe’s family.
The Swiss food multinational said it had received an unannounced visit from government officials and police on December 19 and was forced to accept a milk delivery from non-contracted suppliers.
Two of its managers were questioned by police and were released without charge the same day.
In a statement the Vevey-based company said that “under such circumstances normal operations and the safety of employees are no longer guaranteed”.
The decision is seen as a setback in efforts by the African country to persuade foreign investors to return and help rebuild a devastated economy.
Nestlé stopped buying milk from the Gushungo Dairy Estate in October, following international criticism of a deal made in February. The farm had been seized under Mugabe’s controversial land reform programme.
At that time, Nestlé said its business with the farm accounted for ten to 15 per cent of its local milk supply and that it had a long-term commitment to Zimbabwe.
swissinfo.ch and agencies