WASHINGTON DC —
Opposition parties and civic organizations on Sunday thronged the homestead of a traditional chief, Masuku of Matobo District, where vice president Phelekezela Mphoko was expected to address the crowd on Maleme Farm which has been taken over by a CIO operative.
Mphoko did not turn up and some of the angry villagers went to the farm and broke in saying they wanted to feed the livestock including ostriches that were taken over by the state security agent, Roderick Mashingaidze.
The two main opposition parties, the MDC and the MDC-T issued statements today condemning the designation of the farm. Zapu was also at the farm yesterday as part of the protesting villagers.
The MDC said it did not make sense that land that was fully utilized by dozens of local communities was being handed over to Mashingaidze an outsider at the at the expense of the locals.
Part of the statement reads: "We understand it to be government policy that the foundation of land reform is the empowerment of indigenous local communities. It thus makes no sense that that the land which is fully being utilized by local indigenous communities is acquired by the State and the allocated to an individual, who is not even local but hails from another far off corner of the country against the wishes of ther entirity of the locals, including their local traditional leaders, all who are already benefitting from the land."
The MDC-T also weighed in on the saga rallying the villagers to stand up as one and protest the take over 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
On Monday more than 40 people were arrested with scores more handing themselves over to the police in solidarity with those arrested.
Police have arrested scores of villagers who converged at a farm in Matobo District on Monday and Sunday that is being taken over by Roderick Mashingaidze of the Central Intelligence Organization (CIO).
The arrested people were later released and charged with kidnapping Mashingaidze's worker. The villagers, however, say they effected a citizen's arrest of the man who they suspect of plundering property at them and handed him over to the police. But instead it, police are now accusing them of kidnapping him.
We reached pastor Anglistone Sibanda, a leader of one of the civic organizations, Shalon, which was at the farm Sunday and is helping those arrested with legal assistance.