Nestlé, the multinational food company which is the largest customer of Mugabe’s dairy farm, is not obliged to comply with the sanctions as its headquarters are in Switzerland, the Telegraph said.
Switzerland has its own set of measures, but Nestlé insists it has not broken Swiss law.
On Saturday, the Daily Telegraph reported that Robert Mugabe himself had built up a secret personal farming empire including at least five white-owned farms from which the owners were forced out.
According to the Sunday Telegraph, Grace Mugabe’s properties total about 4 856 hectares, but her most important is Gushungo Dairy Estate. It is located in the Mazowe Valley, about 20km north of Harare.
The farm is managed by Russell Goreraza, her son from her first marriage with Stanley Goreraza, now a military attaché in Zimbabwe’s diplomatic service.
Her biggest customer, according to her staff and industry insiders, is Nestlé Zimbabwe, the local subsidiary of the Swiss company, the newspaper reported.
According to farm staff, the dairy’s only other customers were personal callers at the premises.
When the Sunday Telegraph visited the farm, the milk was being offered for $1 a litre.
A spokesperson at Nestlé’s global headquarters in Switzerland told the newspaper that in 2009 the company started purchasing milk on the open market from various suppliers on a strictly non-contractual basis.
“In certain instances, the milk available in the market would be from Gushungo Dairy Estate,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying.
“During the recent crisis, Nestlé has not considered moving its operations out of the country. By providing basic food products to Zimbabwean consumers, Nestlé aims to meet the needs of the local population, many of whom are vulnerable and disadvantaged.”
The newspaper also reported that pay and conditions for workers at the dairy were meagre.
A 25-year-old worker, with a child to care for, said she could not afford to buy the milk at $1 a litre.
“I get $40 a month, yet we sell lots and lots of milk,” she told the Sunday Telegraph.
“Mrs Mugabe is here a lot, but doesn’t talk to us, just the managers,” she said.
In November 2007 The Zimbabwe Times reported that DZL Holdings Limited, formerly Dairibord Zimbabwe Limited, had stopped accepting milk from Gushungo Dairy Estates. Senior officials at DZL told The Zimbabwe Times that the milk had been condemned the previous month.
The Zimbabwe Times confirmed the story during a visit to Gushungo Dairy Estates.
Gushungo Dairy Estates was previously known as Foyle Farm, owned by one Ian Webster before it was seized and renamed by Mugabe in 2002.
At the time of the take-over it was the best dairy farm in the country with 4 000 cows. By the time of the visit by the Zimbabwe Times the size of the herd had been reduced to only 600 cows.
Former Minister of Agriculture, Joseph Made, was then the manager of Gushungo Dairy Estates. Cows from the farm have been exhibited at the Harare Agricultural Show over the years.