CHURCHES in Matabeleland South are circulating a petition in churches across the country as they seek the reversal of the acquisition of Maleme Farm in Matobo district, indicating that the farm has been dedicated to God for the benefit of the community.
Maleme Farm is reported to have been acquired by Rodney Mashingaidze, an official in the office of the president from a white farmer, David Cunningham, who was supposed to vacate it on February 1 this year.
The ranch houses Ebenezer College and Shalom Campsite.
But churches in Matabeleland South, only identified by the umbrella name as Churches in Zimbabwe, have started circulating a petition to churches in the country, as they challenge the government to reverse the acquisition of the farm.
“We, from around Maleme Farm, are petitioning for the reversal of the acquisition and allocation of Maleme farm,” reads part of the petition.
“Maleme Farm has been dedicated to God for the benefit of the community and church in Matabeleland.
“The farm houses Shalom Campsite, which has been used for over 50 years by churches, schools and community groups from across the country.”
The petition states that Ebenezer Trust, which is on Maleme Farm, presently employs more than 60 people from the community.
“In addition, there are 80 chicken farmers who are working with the poultry out-grower scheme, which operates through Maleme Farm, producing over 750 000 birds per year and each earning annual profits of $3 000 to $12 000,” reads the petition.
“Maleme Farm supports the running of Induna Primary School.
“The operations on Maleme Farm are an integral part of the community and have been so for many years.
“Those signing this petition appeal that the acquisition and allocation of Maleme Farm be reversed.”
Maleme Farm currently supplies over 50% of Matabeleland’s layer birds to small-scale farmers.
Cunningham, the farm owner, was given notice to stop operations on December 19 2014 and prepare to hand over to a new owner, Mashingaidze, who has since reportedly taken an inventory in the presence of the police and declared that anything removed would be considered theft of his property.
The churches in the province state that Shalom campsite has been dedicated to God and actively used by the church since 1958.
“Over the years, thousands of people have come to know the Lord at Shalom,” reads part of the petition.
“More recently, Shalom has provided training facilities for farmers under the Turning Matabeleland Green (TMG) programme.
“Within TMG, farmers receive training in tomato growing and chicken raising, enabling them to earn incomes of up to $12 000 per year.
“To date 3 000 rural farmers have been trained, with a long waiting list yet to be trained.”
The churches said Maleme works very closely with the local community.