THE opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) has slammed government for “pretending” that it was assisting the Anglican Church in Figtree, Matabeleland South province to stop land invasions at its Cyrene Farm.

Cyrene Farm was invaded by more than 500 people in 2000 at the height of the Zanu PF supported land invasions.

CCC Bulawayo spokesperson Swithern Chirowodza accused President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government of targeting mission schools. “Property rights must be restored to the Cyrene Mission. Trying to fool the UK is a lie that all is well at Cyrene Mission when the farm was long seized by invaders. Court victories for the Anglican Mission have not been respected,” he said.

He was responding after Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services secretary Ndabaningi Mangwana on July 18 tweeted:

“After a successful tour of Europe and the final exhibition of Cyrene Students’ Work in London, the artworks were carefully packed and stored at St Michael’s and All Angels Church in Shoreditch, London.”

Since the invasions, the Anglican Church has been struggling to evict the invaders.

Mission officials said the settlers had been vandalising fencing and destroying the environment through illegal gold panning with no action taken against them.

In 2020, church authorities wrote to President Emmerson Mnangagwa seeking his intervention to stop the invasions, but nothing has been done.

In a letter dated May 28, 2022, directed to the Matabeleland South chief lands officer, the church said it was worried about fresh invasions of its 2 540-hectare property, which houses Cyrene Mission, high school and clinic as well as a cattle ranch.

The letter was signed by Matabeleland Diocesan Trustees, reverends Cleophas Lunga, Fritz N Madida and Moffat Musasa.

In 2015, former land minister, Douglas Mombeshora, sent a delegation to investigate the issue, but it was later reported that Cyrene Farm had been gazetted for land redistribution together with the controversial Maleme Farm, which saw villagers and chiefs come together to challenge the takeover.

Source Newsday