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Billy Rautenbach fingered in escalations of violence in Manicaland

Billy Rautenbach fingered in escalation of violence in Manicaland

By Tichaona Sibanda
16 March 2010

Billy Rautenbach, the 51 year old multimillionaire businessman with close links to ZANU PF, has been accused by the MDC of hounding and intimidating its activists in Manicaland as political tension builds ahead of the
constitution making programme.

Rautenbach, who is well known for his aggressive business tactics has allegedly teamed up with top ZANU PF officials in Chipinge to drive out known MDC activists from the vast area of land that he now owns.

MDC spokesman for Manicaland province, Pishai Muchauraya, told SW Radio Africa on Tuesday that Rautenbach was directly responsible for the tensions that have led to several skirmishes in the province.

‘He has teamed up with Enock Porusingazi (ZANU PF’s losing parliamentary candidate in Chipinge South) to displace, intimidate and beat up our supporters. The concern is growing in the face of what is happening to our
activists in the province,’ Muchauraya said.

‘He now controls ARDA Chisumbanje (a sugar cane estate) and (an estate) in the Middle Sabi areas, that are under the MDC in Manicaland. This gives him 50 percent of arable land in the province where most of the workers from the estates are MDC supporters. Already we have reports that workers from Mahanye, Maparadze, Garahwa, Chisumbanje, Madhuku and Makoho areas have been displaced,’ Muchauraya said.

Rautenbach controversially secured the vast pieces of land as part of the state-owned Agriculture and Rural Development Authority (ARDA)’s drive to lease out to private companies all its estates that lie derelict, after
years of mismanagement by ZANU PF beneficiaries of the land redistribution programme.

The private companies that benefit are generally owned by friends and cronies of ZANU PF. Rautenbach’s companies, Macdom Pvt (Ltd) and Ratings Investment, are growing sugarcane for production of ethanol in Chisumbanje and wheat in the Middle Sabi.

The MDC MP for Makoni South said there were other hot spots in the province where violence had also flared up. Disturbances have been reported in Buhera central, north and west. A serving soldier, identified as Major Svosve, is reportedly leading gangs of ZANU PF youths to harass and intimidate MDC activists in Buhera.

‘The Prime Minister was in the province over the weekend and was able to hear first hand reports of the resurgence of violence. What he said during his tour was for people to note down names of police and army officers who are perpetrating violence in their areas,’ Muchauraya said.

‘What we have started doing in the province is to compile a database of all perpetrators of violence. We are getting their names, their identity numbers, and their village of origin, their next of kin, dates and places of
attacks. We are also taking down the dates when people make a report to the police and note down if action was taken or not by the authorities,’ the MP added.

Where it’s possible, the MDC is also taking photographs of the perpetrators and keeping them in their database.

‘We are not leaving anything to chance. We know that if justice is suppressed today, tomorrow it will prevail,’ Muchauraya said.

In Mudzi, Mashonaland East province, ZANU PF youths are reportedly demanding livestock to stock up their bases for food for when the constitutional outreach programmes begins in the next few weeks.

Ian Kay, MDC MP for Marondera told us their activists were being forced to donate goats, chickens ‘and in one instance a full mombe (cow).’

‘All this information is substantiated but our activists are scared to report these incidents in case of repercussions from the ZANU PF people,’ Kay said.

Despite the MDC being in government for a year now, the human rights situation remains extremely poor and the government continues to restrict or deny fundamental rights. While the politicians take their time to talk,
meet, negotiate and jostle for power, it is the Zimbabweans in the rural areas who are at the frontline and they are the ones who have to face the ongoing violence. 


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