Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Maleme saga rages on

Maleme saga rages on

By  | June 19, 2016

Source: Maleme saga rages on – Sunday News Jun 19, 2016

Vusumuzi Dube Sunday News Reporter @vusadb
THE Matobo community in Matabeleland South and the family of Chief Masuku have separately written to President Mugabe asking him to recall Matobo North Member of the National Assembly Cde Never Khanye and Rural Development and Preservation of National Culture and Heritage Minister CdeAbednico Ncube from their portfolios accusing the two politicians of working against the development of the area, with regards to the controversy surrounding ownership of Maleme farm in the district.

The family of the late Chief Malaki Masuku wrote complaining about the conduct of Minister Ncube during the burial of their father, accusing him of disrespecting the Masuku family by allegedly trying to reverse the late chief’s works.

The Minister clashed with Chief Nyangazonke over the presence of Mr Peter Cunningham, a white commercial farmer, at the disputed farm during Chief Masuku’s burial last month. Minister Ncube, who was speaking at the late chief’s homestead in Natisa Village, described Mr Cunningham as a “slave master” who was exploiting the local black community on the pretext that he was assisting them with agricultural projects.

Mr Cunningham has been locked in a protracted legal wrangle with senior State intelligence officer Mr Rodney Mashingaidze over the control of the farm, which also houses Big Cave Camp and Ebenezer Agricultural Training Centre.

Mr Mashingaidze took over the farm which was allocated to him by the Ministry of Lands and Rural Settlement last year in February, sparking protests from the local community benefiting from various agricultural projects funded by Mr Cunningham.

Contacted for comment, Mr Killian Masuku, the Masuku family spokesperson confirmed that they had written to President Mugabe complaining about Minister Ncube’s conduct during the burial.

He said as a family they felt disrespected and undermined by the minister, who he said even refused to meet with the family afterwards to discuss the issue.

“What he did is taboo and a clear way of undermining the late chief. He acted in an unministerial manner. He knows that during his time, Chief Masuku defended the people of Matobo with all his heart. He fought very hard for this Maleme issue, which thus came as a surprise when the minister, at the burial of all places, decided to try to reverse the works of Chief Masuku. The letter which we wrote to President Mugabe is more of a complaint because we feel as a family we were hugely disrespected by the minister and we feel he cannot be allowed to do such things as a minister who is responsible for traditional leaders,” said Mr Masuku.

Meanwhile, the Matobo community has also petitioned President Mugabe to recall Cde Ncube and Cde Khanye arguing that instead of working towards developing the district, the two were working against it hence there now was a “leadership crisis”.

“Both Cdes Khanye and Ncube have exhibited gross insubordination and utter disregard to the Office of the President and Cabinet and indeed to His Excellency in person who in his wisdom saw it fit, through Vice-President Cde Phelekezela Mphoko to grant the Ebenezer Trust as well as Peter Cunningham and family authority to continue working with the community through the various agriculture projects that are going on at Maleme Ranch.

“Cde Ncube is also on record, having clashed with our traditional leaders at Chief Masuku’s burial having uttered grossly insensitive, culturally inappropriate and politically dangerous statements that angered the community and did not even show respect for the deceased chief of the area who died fighting for his subjects to be left alone to work for the country in their area, a behaviour that is contrary to our culture that he is supposedly overseeing its preservation,” reads part of the petition.

Cde Khanye is also accused of not showing any respect for the community as they say he allegedly calls for meetings where elderly people walk over 20 kilometres to attend but he does not show up at all.

“We have concluded that both Honourable Khanye and Honourable Ncube are unfit to serve in the offices that we elected them for and the that His Excellency appointed them for (respectively). We thus are recalling Honourable Khanye from being our elected House of Assembly member and appeal to the President to consider removing Honourable Ncube from the crucial ministry that is responsible for Rural Development and Preservation of Culture since he does not care about preservation of culture and respect for the dead and the elderly,” reads the petition, which by yesterday has been signed by 1 107 villagers.

Contacted for comment, Cde Ncube said he would not comment on issues which he was not aware of. “Listen here, I don’t comment on things which I don’t know so leave me alone, go to the family and the community so they give you the comment because I will not tell you a thing,” he said.

Cde Khanye could not be reached for comment. His phone went unanswered. The farm dispute had appeared to have cooled down following last year’s intervention by Vice-President Mphoko when he ordered Mr Mashingaidze to vacate the property which he had occupied. VP Mphoko subsequently directed the Ministry of Lands and Rural Settlement to identify another farm for Mr Mashingaidze. In April, when VP Mphoko visited the farm, he expressed satisfaction over the progress of the projects which are being undertaken to uplift the lives of the people at the farm.


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