PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has been dragged into the messy Maleme Ranch acquisition, after the Matobo Development Forum pleaded with him to stop the farm grab, which they condemned as a painful reminder of Gukurahundi.
Maleme Ranch, which houses Ebenezer College and Shalom Campsite, was reportedly allocated to Rodney Mashingaidze, an official in the office of the president.
Bishops and villagers, despite being assaulted by police recently for resisting the ranch grab, have condemned the takeover and vowed to fight it.
In a statement, the Matobo Development Forum asked Mugabe to intervene, saying Mashingaidze’s actions reminded them of Gukurahundi.
“We are, therefore, calling upon the highest office in the land, whose representatives are causing the chaos in our district in his capacity as the first secretary and president of the Zanu PF party, also in his capacity as the head of State, under whom Mashingaidze is an intelligence officer, also in his capacity as chairman of Sadc that is championing regional development and the chairman of the African Union where he is driving Agenda 2063 anchored upon local, beneficiation to act in bringing sanity to the land shenanigans in our district, ” the forum pleaded with Mugabe.
“We would like to mention that Vice-President (Phelekezela) Mphoko has been appointed as minister responsible for National Healing, the recent harassment of villagers in Matobo is not serving any interest towards healing, but is a rude and painful reminder of our recent past, where the 5 Brigade butchered our relatives, fathers, brothers and mothers, some who disappeared and we have never been given an opportunity to mourn them nor have we been given an account as what happened to them.”
The forum added: “Suffice to mention that our district is home to the infamous Bhalagwe, where our people were tortured and killed in the ’80s, thrown into a mine shaft.
“The actions are a painful reminder of these dark episodes in the history of our country where the same State machinery was used to brutalise us and we are beginning to ask ourselves whether we are Zimbabweans or not.”
The forum noted that the ranch takeover went against the tenets of the government’s economic blueprint ZimAsset and frustrated community development.
“Having noted with concern the latest development in our district that pertain to corruption in the land acquisition process, unfair and systematic manipulation of the State apparatus and the abuse of State institutions by some members the ruling Zanu PF party, some members of the State security system, the local legislator and the custodians of the governance system that are supposed to discharge their duties in all diligence and fairness in respect and upholding the Constitution of Zimbabwe,” the organisation said.
The association said they had it on record that Mashingaidze got an offer letter sometime last year ahead of the Zanu PF congress and this was endorsed by the Minister of State for Matabeleland South Province Abednico Ncube contrary to the directive by the Lands and Rural resettlement minister Douglas Mombeshora that all farm grabs after 2007 are illegal.
“We are shocked as to how Mashingaidze got the papers, we are not aware of any publication in the Government Gazette or minutes from the lands committee meeting that authorised it,” the association said.
“These elements are working hard to frustrate the community-based efforts that are aimed at realising the goals of the ZimAsset blueprint.
“We have begun to wonder as to whose agenda these elements are serving and we are worried that they are bent on turning the people against the revolutionary party.”