By Nomalanga Moyo
SW Radio Africa
07 August 2014
Figtree farmer David Conolly has filed contempt of court charges against Ray Ndhlukula who has seized Centenary Farm in defiance of an existing court order.
Conolly lodged his complaint Thursday morning at the same Bulawayo High Court that on June 27th issued the order barring Ndhlukula from occupying Centenary Farm.
Rights campaigner Ben Freeth, who has been supporting the Conollys at their farm, told SW Radio Africa about the court application and said they hoped it will be heard on an urgent basis.
“The issue of the farm workers who were evicted from their homes Tuesday is of major concern to the Conollys. These workers’ homes have been taken over by Ndhlukula’s people who shouldn’t even be there as spelt out in the court order.
“It is disappointing that the police have stood by while all this is going on and there doesn’t seem to be any moves from the police to reverse the illegal occupation,” Freeth said.
One of the affected workers, Makheyi Sibanda, told SW Radio Africa that he has been forced to seek refuge at a neighbouring farm following the takeover of their homes.
Sibanda said the invaders have been busy since Tuesday cutting down trees and clearing land in a sign that they are preparing to set up structures and to commence farming activities.
Sibanda, a long-serving worker at the farm, is lucky to be alive after his throat was slit by President Mugabe’s 5th Brigade which carried out the Gukurahundi atrocities in the Matebeleland and Midlands region in the 1980s.
“UMesisi wabancenga ukuthi bangangibulali, basebengitshiya. Kwakungo 1983,” Sibanda said, narrating how the farmer’s wife begged the soldiers to spare him his life in 1983.
At the time of the massacres that left at least 20,000 civilians dead, Ndhlukula reportedly already had a senior position in ZANU PF, working in the DA’s office in Matebeleland South.
Ndhlukula has vowed to disobey the court order allowing Conolly to stay on the farm, saying as a white farmer Conolly had no right to land in Zimbabwe. He is currently the deputy chief secretary in the President’s Office.
The Figtree community are said to be mobilising to demonstrate against Ndhlukula’s invasion of Centenary Farm which has cost scores of families their only source of livelihood in a region already blighted by lack of opportunities.
Conolly is also the only keeper of a pedigree herd of Hereford and Senepols breeds in the country and if Ndhlukula succeeds in his planned takeover, the beasts will have to be slaughtered. A neighbouring farmer is currently sheltering Conolly’s animals and workers.
“They are not able to graze the cattle at Conolly’s farm and this has created a difficult situation because these are the only pedigree herd of the Hereford and Senepols in the country,” Freeth said.
The cattle are used to reinforce the quality of beef which is important for export markets. Conolly’s is the only remaining herd in the whole country and if the cattle are slaughtered, this will affect the country’s beef exports.
“So for Zimbabwe’s beef genetics it is important that these cattle are able to continue on the farm,” said Freeth, an ex-Chegutu farmer who was also violently dispossessed of his land by ZANU PF.