Friday, October 02, 2009

Nestlé gorges on Zimbabwe

There is a campaigan against Nestlé over its use of milk purchased from a farm now owned by the Mugabes and reportedly one of those seized from white farmers during the last few years. We are told that this campaign is being spearheaded by the West, and by those same white farmers who are bitter at their loss.

Has Nestlé joined the list of unsavoury characters, corporations and states that, alongside the likes of Stephen Gowans ( who?), Joe, Luciano, Ayinde Hotep Trinidad (seriously, people with names like that exist) the Mugabe regime likes to present as proof that it has some sort of standing in the world? The Herald today carried an article in which "NESTLé (sic), an international food and beverages giant, has become the first foreign company to openly hit out at the West’s illegal economic sanctions regime saying an ongoing spirited campaign to have it shut down its Zimbabwe operations will not and will never lead it to close shop. Over the past week, Western media organisations have carried out a co-ordinated effort to harass Nestlé into pulling out of Zimbabwe because one of its milk suppliers is Gushungo Farm, owned by the First Family. However, Nestlé, which is headquartered in Switzerland, has hit back saying it would never consider closing shop in Zimbabwe just because some individuals in the West do not like President Mugabe."

The fact that this article was written by Farirai Machivenyika and Mabasa Sasa (who has taken up conspiracy theory just as it falls out of fashion with alternative media) makes me doubt that anyone at Nestlé, no matter how desperate they might be to do business in Zimbabwe, actually said that last bit. And as for being the first company to openly hit out at the West's illegal sanctions regime...that bit too can't possibly be verbatim quote.

The impression this article gives is that Nestlé is some sort of champion of the Mugabe regime's purported war on imperialism and neo-colonialism. Anyone wondering what these -isms are all about should take comfort in the fact that the caparine-bearded Dr Tafataona Mahoso, having chirped with all his might about the splendour of his emperor's new clothes, has recently been given another chance to fill media paid for by our taxes with explanations on these favourite bywords.

How many ardent champions of the war against imperialism and neo-colonialism and all that will seriously believe that Nestlé is on their side, ready to break ranks with the evil West which is hounding Mugabe for standing up for economic independence for the third world? Isn't this the same Nestlé that evokes images of 1.5 million children dying annually of its infant formula? Apparently, Nestlé started off by giving it away for free in maternity wings across the third world. When mothers went home, however, they found they had to buy the formula and this time they really had no choice as its use in the hospital had already disrupted their own lactation cycle, meaning they could not give their children their own breast milk. Nestlé's profits last year were in the 100b category.

Any one with time can have a look at the catalogue of atrocities carried out by this company in its quest for the dollar. My favourite Nestlé Nasty is the revelation in 2006 that they use slave labour in their cocoa plantations in West Africa.

Doesn't this whole scenario-where the epitome of neo-colonial multinational corporation infamy is touted as the ally of a self-proclaimed hero of the third world masses bear an obscene resemblance to the last pages of Animal Farm, where the pigs began to do business with the human owners of the neighbouring farms?

Oh, and back a bit on my opening statement. I am not aware of a massive campaign by the West. I am sure there are people in the West who sympathise with us, but they too have matters of concern in their own countries right now. And I can understand a white farmer being bitter. You don't have to be white farmer to be bitter. Any one would be bitter if they had just lost a farm, let alone got beaten up. But the majority of the campaign against Nestlé's shameful ties to the Mugabe regime is being led by ordinary Zimbabweans like myself who know quite well that the money earned in this venture is only to keep Mugabe in power and comfort. It is for this reason that this campaign is a righteous cause.

As Bob Marley sang, "soon we'll find out who is the real revolutinary".

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