Villagers in Ward 21, Marondera East have teamed up with local Zanu PF members to stop the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement from giving a farm owned by a white farmer to Zanu PF Mashonaland East provincial secretary, Herbert Shumbamhini.
The farm, Gombola Farm, belongs Andrew Lock and the villagers feel that he should not be removed as he is assisting them in their own farming activities with irrigation and in the development of a local school.
The villagers also say Lock forked out $1 million for the construction of 22 houses for them and helped them in setting up a tobacco curing unit and a pack shed. The villagers have since written a petition to the chief provincial lands officer, Wilfred Motsi ordering the ministry to stop the transfer of the land to Shumbamhini.
"The dismissal of Mr Lock from Gombola Farm will turn the irrigation scheme here into a flop," the petition by the villagers reads.
"The dismissal also means that the ward will lose a lot of services which he used to render such as transportation of people to and from (Zanu PF) party rallies, national events and other developmental projects."
They added: "Shumbamhini has already indicated that he cannot assist the Ward like what Lock was doing. "We as Ward 21 residents, request that this farm be spared from any allocation so that the ward continues to thrive socially, economically and politically." In the petition, the villagers said they were "aggrieved" in that the 400-hectare farm was being allocated to one person at the expense of 450 farm employees, 520 youths and 120 women in the ward who are landless.
Lock is reported to have paid $2,500 for the installation of irrigation equipment sourced from Brazil by the government. The villagers say the offer letter in possession of Shumbamhini was invalid as it was offered by Elias Zero, a former director in the lands ministry who had no authority to do so.
The villagers also accuse Shumbamhini of being arrogant after he was allocated a farm in Mutoko and Nyadora Farm in Macheke, offers which were both turned down.
The petition was copied to the two vice presidents, Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko, the minister of lands, Douglas Mombeshora, Zanu PF provincial chairman, Biggie Joel Matiza, Mashonaland East provincial minister, Ambrose Mutinhiri.
Crops grown at Gombola Farm include, tobacco, maize, Katambara grass, horticultural crops while it has a 225 herd of cattle.
Mashonaland East province has in the past been accused by President Robert Mugabe and other senior Zanu PF officials of protecting white commercial farmers as it is the only province in the country that still has the highest number of white farmers in the country.