VICE-PRESIDENT Phelekezela Mphoko is expected to visit troubled Maleme Ranch in Matobo, as tensions increase following its acquisition.
Mphoko’s visit to Maleme, which houses Ebenezer College and Shalom Campsite, and has reportedly been taken over by Rodney Mashingaidze — an official in the office of the president — comes amid reports that more farms in the area were targeted for acquisition.
Recently, the Matobo Development Forum appealed to President Robert Mugabe to intervene, saying Mashingaidze’s actions reminded them of Gukurahundi genocide.
According to Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), Mphoko is due at the farm on March 8.
“A meeting was held on February 23 by about 650 residents of Maleme Ranch to discuss the invasion of the farm,” ZPP said.
“The residents were promised a visit by vice-president Phelekezela Mphoko on March 8.
“The meeting was informed that the matter of Maleme Ranch was before the High Court and a judgment was due to be delivered soon.”
ZPP said it had gathered information that Sala Farm, Camp Amalinda, Big Cave and Ethandweni Orphanage, were targeted for invasion.
ZPP said the owner of Maleme Ranch, Peter Cunningham, was only accessing the farm “only to deliver food to his workers”.
“The butternuts on his farm are currently being harvested by those who have taken over the farm,” the organisation said.
Cunningham, however, said he was not aware of Mphoko’s impending visit.
“Frankly speaking, I do not know any meeting being planned with him (Mphoko),” he said briefly.
Religious groups in Matabeleland South, only identified by the umbrella name as Churches in Zimbabwe, have started circulating a petition to churches in the country, challenging the government to reverse the acquisition of the farm.
Churches in the province state that Shalom Campsite was dedicated to God and actively used by the church since 1958.
Maleme Farm currently supplies over 50% of Matabeleland’s layer birds to small-scale farmers.