Zanu PF youths storm church over land

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AT LEAST 1 000 Zanu PF youths yesterday stormed St Mary’s Anglican Church in Chitungwiza and disrupted the service demanding an audience with the church’s leadership over a piece of land they want to grab and subdivide into residential stands for party members.

BY OBEY MANAYITI

The youths, some of whom appeared drunk, sang and chanted party slogans as they took hostage and blocked church members from leaving the premises for over three hours.

They only dispersed following the intervention of riot police. The ruling party supporters accused the church of illegally grabbing the disputed 82 hectare land from local people during the colonial era.

The disputed land is located between St Marys Police Station and Chikwanha business centre.

The youths were clad in Zanu PF regalia and were addressed by Zanu PF’s Innocent Hamandishe before he met church leadership
over the matter.

“We were directed by our leader, (Innocent) Hamandishe who is a Central Committee member. This land should be in our hands because the church gained it after killing our forefathers,” one of the youths identified as Tendai Mutisi said.

As the group marched towards the land at the centre of controversy, another party activist shouted: “We are here to take this land. No one in the church has the capacity to stop us. Not even police details here can stop us. This is our land and we have taken it over.”

Contacted for comment, Zanu PF national spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo said: “I don’t know who these youths are and nobody has given me a report concerning that, but as a party, we don’t promote any form of indiscipline. We are a disciplined party and we would want our members to know that we have a constitution which everyone should abide by. We are not happy with that report.”
Efforts to contact Hamandishe after the fracas were fruitless as his mobile went unanswered.

Parish leader Reverend Norman Nyawo said the incident had left most of his congregants traumatised as they feared that the marauding youths could break into the main auditorium and harm them.

“Emotionally, we were disturbed. I think their intentions were to instill fear in the congregants,” Nyawo said.

“We started the church at 8am and the youths came at around 9am and we understand a few of them scaled the precast wall clad in their party regalia. We continued with the service, but everyone was disturbed.

“We finally had a meeting with their committee and they insisted that we should address the majority of the youths who were outside the gate.”

Nyawo yesterday insisted that the land belonged to the church, adding they would soon take the matter to court to stop the Zanu PF youths who have already parcelled out some of the land among themselves.

He said the church had plans to build a polytechnic college or a vocational training centre at the site.

Spokesperson for the Anglican Bishop in the Diocese of Harare, Precious Shumba, condemned the disturbances and appealed to Zanu PF to rein in its rowdy supporters.

“Zanu PF, the ruling party, has an obligation to maintain peace in Zimbabwe, just as it is the responsibility of every Zimbabwean,” Shumba said.

“The Anglican Church’s land belongs to the church for the expansion of its health and educational programming. Not every unused land is available for subdivision into residential stands.

“The President (Robert Mugabe) and his Cabinet have a responsibility to every Zimbabwean to respect and uphold the provisions of the Constitution regarding private property rights.

“As the Anglican Church, we urge the police to maintain law and order. Political parties should desist from pursuing populist positions that undermine the government’s efforts to unite the citizens around the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation.”

He added: “Investors and other international observers are all watching how the government respects the rule of law. The church provides a safe space to all people and for any political activists to disrupt a church service is the height of lawlessness.
“Anglicans are urged to remain united and recall the persecution they overcame during the five years in exile (This was in reference to the legal battle between Bishop Chad Gandiya and defrocked Archbishop Nolbert Kunonga over control of the Anglican Church).

“This latest assault on our religious institution should be viewed in the light of the exile conflict which undermined our fundamental rights to freedom of worship.”

The land invasions started before the just-ended Easter Holidays and almost turned violent after MDC-T youths also demanded a share of the land.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Khaya Moyo since when have you been a disciplined party. Your youths and those in RSA killing fellow africans are not different, the difference is in RSA the police intefere in protecting the victims, in Zimbabwe the police protect this mafia.

  2. This is very disturbing news but what can you expect from ZANU PF members. It’s sad that the party has become so lawless that no-one can touch them now. In Harare every piece of open land has been invaded by ZANU PF mafia in the name of dubious and unregistered cooperatives. Some of these cooperatives have creamed off people hard earned money and they run under various guises and ruses, from Grace Mugabe Heights to any name that curries well with Mugabe’s tastes. Some have even called themselves Zim-Asset Cooperative but settling in wetlands, open spaces reserved for social activities and the like. The hallmark of all the illegal settlements in a ZANU PF flag that flies day and night. Surely, a second and very bitter Murambatsvina is coming – surely in the new Zimbabwe we all yearn for.

  3. Every Zimbabwean has a right to have a house and a stand. It baffles me WHY many churches are given stands vis-a-vis individuals. The govt together with local authorities should address the issue of housing backlog. Its unfair, imagine a minister owning many stands and houses all over the country and yet someone does not have a single stand.

    • Willard – not every piece of land can be a residential stand. If you go to the City Council you will realise that the land in question is zoned as School/health. If these youths have the financial muscle to build a school and hospital – then they should take the land yesterday – otherwise they should just shut up, work and buy residential stands at going rates. Hakuna zvemahara – even card reZANU rinotengeswa wani.

  4. Zimbo-Mafia at play. We have space barons in the cbd and land barons in the councils. There is aclear system if one wants a stand. Either buy privately developed stands or join the waiting list like all of us. Iyi nyaya yekungobvuta nekuti unozviti uri weZanu PF ndiyo yakonzera kuparara kwenyika. It started with farms, then mines, even houses are having title deeds altered and stolen in broad daylight. Tinosvikepi nhai vanhu veZimbabwe? Taimbozivikanwa nekuvimbika uye kushanda nesimba, ikozvino tangova nyika yemazimbavha.

  5. These youths are just being used. A big fish will benefit. Zpf is the same party which allowed mabamba and chigumba to abuse council land now they want to take that small piece from Anglican. They blame south africa but they do the same here. Zpf is not suitable to say no to xenophobia because it a lawless party.

  6. God’s anger can destroy a people. How and when, we do not know but it sure will happen some day. When it happens, do not cry if you have taken party in this anarchy. Mark my words.

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