VP Mphoko dodges Maleme meeting

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Phelekezela Mphoko

VICE-PRESIDENT Phelekezela Mphoko was in no-show yesterday at a highly anticipated, tense and explosive meeting to address government’s acquisition of Maleme Farm in Matobo, Matabeleland South, as opposition parties have called for mass protests against the farm’s new owner.

STAFF REPORTERS

Central Intelligence Organisation officer Rodney Mashingaidze was allocated the farm, but villagers said they would not allow him to take ownership of it, an issue Mphoko was meant to address.

Now villagers say they will set up vigils at the farm from today and will not allow anyone to take over the land which belonged to David Cunningham, one of few remaining white commercial farmers in the district.

The opposition MDC-T has called on villagers and the local leadership to stand up together, regardless of political affiliation against the invasion of the farm.

“MDC-T is calling for people in Matobo to rise regardless of their political affiliation and stand for their rights by defending the takeover of Maleme Farm, worse by an outsider,” MDC-T Matobo district chairman Themba Dube said.

“That farm has been a source of people’s livelihood and we cannot afford to lose it.

“We cannot let that area be taken.”

Dube said people in Matobo were tired of having outsiders taking farms and later abandoning them leaving the district in ruins.

“The worst part of it is that the people who do that are not locals, at least if the farms are taken by locals it would be better,” he said.

As tensions rose yesterday, Zipra Veterans’ Trust and the secessionist Mthwakazi Liberation Party (MLP) activists yesterday took the lead in confronting Mashingaidze.

Matabeleland South chiefs and villagers opposed Mashingaidze’s attempts to grab the property that houses Shalom Campsite and Ebenezer Agricultural Training Centre, which offered entrepreneurial and agricultural training, but had never confronted the State spy.

Chiefs and villagers have sought the intervention of Mphoko and Lands minister Douglas Mombeshora to evict Mashingaidze.

More than 500 villagers, civic society activists and politicians, some from Bulawayo, attended yesterday’s meeting that was supposed to be addressed by Mphoko, with a number of them wearing T-shirts inscribed “We are human beings, respect us,” in messages apparently directed at Mashingaidze.

The source of the T-shirts could not be verified.

Angry Zipra War Veterans’ Trust and MLP activists, from Bulawayo, after the meeting went to Shalom Campsite, dismantled the two gates leading to the Maleme farmhouse to confront Mashingaidze and his workers over the ranch grab – but Mashingaidze was nowhere to be found while his workers fled.

“Already we see signs of destruction at the farm,” Retired Colonel Ray Ncube said.

“Mashingaidze is a criminal because, how can one individual seek to displace the community from their only source of livelihood?
“We are in solidarity with the community.

“We are concerned with what is happening here and we wanted to confront him.”

Mqondisi Moyo, the president of the MLP added: “We will not rest until this issue is addressed and resolved.”

Moyo said they were opposed to the farm’s acquisition, as it would deprive villagers of their livelihood.

“We are saying no to economic genocide by Mashingaidze and those supporting his activities,” he said.

“We are standing up to fight on behalf of the villagers.

“This is their land and Mashingaidze cannot be allowed to bulldoze into the area.”

The Matobo Development Forum has appealed to President Robert Mugabe to stop Mashingaidze, and described his attempts to take over the ranch as a painful reminder of Gukurahundi to the Matobo people.

Chief Mathema, Nyangazonke and Masuku reiterated that they would not allow Mashingaidze to grab Cunninghams’ property and indicated that they would keep lobbying Mombeshora and Mphoko to reverse the takeover.

“We are trying our best to have this farm takeover reversed,” Chief Mathema said.

“We are approaching various government offices. We face frustration here and there, but we will not be deterred.  You (villagers) have said you do not want Mashingaidze and we stand by you. We respect your decisions and it is our duty to make sure that your wishes are not trampled on. I am saying no to this attempt to grab this farm.”

Chief Masuku added: “President Mugabe has said he respects chiefs and who then is Mashingaidze to disrespect us?”

7 COMMENTS

  1. If the take over of all white owned farms was genuine, the farms could not have been taken to benefit a few individuals. I see no reason of taking a farm from John and give it to Matshingaidze and say Zimbabweans are benefiting. I s machingaiyidze many? mxmmm!!!

  2. my biggest problem is that they are christians who are so close to the president like lawrance kamwi, damasane people like shanas have been there with president who know what shalom is. where are there. shalom is not just a farm it is a sacred place where thousands like me have had unbelievable encounters with the Creator of the world. i am not writing this letter to have the farm given back to the cunninghums but to let mashingaidze know that he is touching the anointed and that will be problems for him. i repeat he is hanging himself. i had hoped that our christian friends up they would tell him the truth.etc but would rather keep quiet because they are now thinking about positions than the kingdom of God. where are the esther’s of today?

  3. I am a zanupf ngithi phansi ngomashingaidze pambili ngomtwakazi.sizaku”gamatox” wena mbulali we gukurahundi

  4. The action taken and being bravely sustained by the local communities, traditional leaders, Christians and concerned citizen nationally who, besides other courageous interventions relating to the matter, appended their signatures to the petition written by the aggrieved, is to be most highly commended! The Southern Eye and other publications who value their role as defenders of the defenceless in the face of an uncaring and oppressive system of governance have an obligation to keep the subject relevant and highly visible in the public domain. It is the least that any responsible and concerned citizen will expect from those who should be upholders of the truth and exposers of all that which is wrong!

  5. i am not sure what mphoko according to me a great sellout was going to do at that farm. what doesnt he know about the good happening there. he knows everything, but he is waiting for his boss to tell him how to make sure zanu benefits from this thing. to them its not about people its about mugabe our god and zanu. that is why there are ready to destroy anything good if it does not glorify mugabe and zanu. its a shame. however I want to tell them again that GOD in heaven is watching and is patiently waiting for their change of thinking. what i know well is that one of these days HE will act to show His love for people and His wrath against evil.

  6. If ever there was a time for the people of Matebeleland to reclaim their land it is now. Ian Smith took away our dignity and subjected us to slavery of a different kind. For 34 long years ZANU PF has made our lives unbearable by depriving us of opportunities to participate in the economy. ZANU PF killed our people in the early 1980s and they continue to dominate us and entrench themselves in the name of nationhood – a nationhood that benefits a few. Kwanele, enough is enough. Let us stand up and be counted and fight to emancipate ourselves.

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