A TOP Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) operative in Matabeleland South has been accused of using Zanu PF officials to revive a bid to take over Maleme Ranch after he was blocked by the Matobo community last year.
BY NQOBILE BHEBHE
Rodney Mashingaidze was forced to abandon the takeover of the farmer owned by Peter Cunningham after the community backed the farmer saying he had stood by them in times of need.
Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko was forced to intervene after villagers threatened to take the law into their own hands if Mashingaidze insisted on taking over the farm.
Chief Malaki Masuku’s spokesperson Killion Masuku yesterday said a group of Zanu PF youths had been trying to coerce villagers to sign documents indicating that a local “grazing committee wanted to take over the ranch.”
“Over the weekend I heard that a group of Zanu PF youths came to the farm with letters forcing people to sign without reading them,” Masuku said.
“The villager became suspicious and refused to sign. However, if they are attempting to take over the farm they will not succeed as villagers will resist.”
Sources said an official from the District Development Fund based at Nathisa in Matobo district who was close to Mashingaidze was behind the last maneuvers to take over the farm.
The sources said the official was working with a local councillor (name given).
“We hear that a group of Zanu PF youths came with letters trying to force the grazing commitee to sign and approve that they are taking over the farm and that they are now the new grazing committee,” the source said.
Maleme Ranch houses Shalom Campsite and Ebenezer Agricultural Training Centre, which offer entrepreneurial and agricultural training.
The Matobo Development Forum last year appealed to President Robert Mugabe to stop Mashingaidze, and described his attempts to take over the ranch as a painful reminder of the Gukurahundi massacres.
Scores of Matobo villagers were arrested last year after they allegedly attacked the CIO boss’ workers but the case was thrown out by a Kezi magistrate.
Mashingaidze eventually left the farm following the intervention of Mphoko and Lands minister Douglas Mombeshora. Mashingaidze was not reachable for comment yesterday.
Several farms in Matabeleland South have been targeted by government officials and ruling Zanu PF activists in recent months despite protests from surrounding communities that land is being parceled to outsiders.