Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Nestle accounts frozen over Grace milk

By Lance Guma

Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono has confirmed his long held status as Mugabe’s blue-eyed boy, by freezing the bank accounts of Nestle Zimbabwe, a week after the dairy firm stopped buying milk from Grace Mugabe.

Following pressure from human rights groups Nestle announced it would stop buying milk from Gushungo Dairy Estate, which was controversially acquired by Grace along with 6 other farms.

A report in the weekly Zimbabwe Independent newspaper quotes Gono confirming the RBZ had ordered a forensic audit into Nestlé’s dealings.

‘There were two or so transactions which were made which we thought were irregular’ Gono told the paper.

‘These have been explained and things are back to normal. We have to be on the look out for any irregular transactions.’

He denied the probe had anything to do with Nestlé’s decision to stop buying milk from Grace Mugabe’s farm. The paper spoke to sources at Nestle who said ‘two of their five banks had confirmed receiving directives from the central bank to freeze the accounts pending forensic audits.’

Despite Gono’s denial they were victimizing the company, the Zimbabwe Independent quotes sources who say a senior government official phoned Nestle on Monday and told them the decision to stop buying from Grace’s farm was an extension of European Union and United States sanctions on the Mugabe’s.

Exiled businessman Gilbert Muponda berated Nestle Zimbabwe for doing business with the Mugabe’s in the first place. He said they ‘owe us an apology for aiding and abetting this regime.’

He likened Nestlé’s behaviour to his own situation, where he claims one of the worlds biggest banks, Credit Suisse, through the Finance Bank of Zambia, is currently trying to buy CFX bank (formerly Century Bank), a company he says was ‘looted’ from him by Gono and company. ‘I was put in jail, denied food, criminalised and tortured just so they could take my company and now you have a reputable international bank trying to buy it,’ he fumed.

Muponda says the freezing of Nestlé’s account was just a ‘warning signal’ being given to the company to remind them that if they wanted to do business in Zimbabwe they had to trade with those in power. He said they were probably ‘many behind-the-scenes maneuvers now going on involving CIO’s and others, trying to build a case against Nestle.’ Source: SW Radio Africa

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