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Nestlé reopens Harare factory

Swiss food giant Nestlé has reopened its factory in the Zimbabwean capital Harare, after assurances that the government would not interfere in its operations.

A spokesman for the company said on Tuesday that Nestlé had officially resumed its activities on December 31, nine days after announcing that it was closing “temporarily”.

The factory had suspended operation after the authorities pressured it to accept a milk delivery from suppliers with whom it did not have a contract.

Nestlé’s operations in Zimbabwe came under severe international criticism in the autumn, when it was learned that one of its suppliers was Gushungo Dairy Estate, owned by the family of the country’s president, Robert Mugabe. The farm had been seized from its former owners under the government’s controversial land reform programme.

The company said it had been forced to turn to non-contract suppliers, including Gushungo Dairy Estate, after half its contractual suppliers went out of business at the end of 2008. However, it announced on October 1 that it would stop buying from the farm.

Nestlé has been present in Zimbabwe for more than 50 years and currently employs about 200 people. Its Harare plant produces milk powder and cereals for the local market.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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