Twelve Maleme villagers arrested for resisting the takeover of a farm by a Central Intelligence Organisation operative Rodney Mashingaidze have been acquitted.
BY SILAS NKALA
The workers were charged at the Kezi Magistrates’ Courts accused of kidnapping Mashingaidze’s workers.
However, the 12 were found not guilty by Kezi magistrate Jimmy Ntonga and were discharged at the close of the State case last week.
Mashingaidze’s attempt to take over the farm from Peter Cunningham was reversed by Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko after protests from locals.
The reversal of the unpopular takeover of Maleme Ranch in Matabo district was hailed as a triumph for people power.
Maleme Ranch offered grazing pastures to villagers who were given pieces of land by Cunningham to conduct small-scale agricultural projects like poultry farming.
At the time analysts said the unprecedented move by chiefs, villagers, political parties and civic groups to gang up in resisting the takeover of Maleme Ranch showed ethnic-driven frustrations over perceived dominance of people from the region by outsiders.
They said such frustrations had reached a dangerous stage, as shown by the militant approach taken by Matobo people, and could easily result in widespread violence especially if the State failed to take necessary measures to cool flaring tempers of perceived ethnic marginalisation over opportunities and jobs.