They said they wanted the bones of their colleagues reburied.
The Great Zimbabwe is one of the world’s major tourist attractions and foreign currency earner for Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is hoping to make a fortune out of the historical site in June as the world descend in neighboring South Africa for the 2010 World Soccer Cup.
Led by self styled war vets leader Francis Zimuto, popularly known as Black Jesus, who pioneered the bloody 2000 land grab from white commercial farmers, the ageing former guerrillas descended upon the monument at around midnight with spirit mediums armed with shovels and picks, provincial police spokesperson, Inspector Tinaye Matake told Radio VOP.
“We were called by the officials at the site that the war vets had started digging an area where they claimed ‘lay the bones’ of some war fighters. We rushed before they had done much damage, as you know that the monuments are protected, and that the war vets had not notified anyone, much as their idea might sound good,” Inspector Matake said.
He added that ten of the war vets were arrested after they tried to resist police orders. “Ten war veterans are arrested as we speak, but I cannot give you the names. They had failed to comply with the police orders.”
Sources however said that among the arrested are the notorious former provincial war vets leader, Isaiah Muzenda, who a fortnight ago staged
a sit-in in governor Titus Maluleke’s office in protest over alleged re-allocation of their tractors for non productivity, as well as Western Ezra, who last year invaded a city lodge, claiming that it was his as it is built on ‘his’ land.
Zimbabwe National War Veterans Association secretary general retired army major Alex Mudavanhu, also confirmed the arrest. “They wanted to dig up for bones for reburial, but they did not follow procedures. There should have been a way worked out on how they would do that, especially at the monuments where tourists visit.”
In another incident in Gwanda self-styled war veterans who occupied Ridden Ranches in the area during the peak of the land invasions in 2003 have
returned back to their original rural homes because of disillusionment.
Scores of Zanu (PF) supporters from Mberengwa , Gwanda and Beitbridge invaded the cattle ranches and chased away white commercial farmers who used to own the land.
The ranches, one of the largest cattle producers in the province before the land invasions are located on the borders of Midlands and Matabeleland South province.
The invaders named the area “Kujambanja” ( a place of violence ).
“ I went to Ridden in 2003 during the height of the land invasions .At first I was sceptical about Kujambanja , but when I saw a significant number of my neighbours leaving , I decided to join the trek,” said Churu.
Disilluisionment set in when he discovered the area did not have good soils and is only suitable for cattle ranching.
“There is no way anybody can get a good harvest at Ridden. The soils are poor and they are just as bad if not worse that where I come from. I wasted my time and resources leaving my father’s home.”
He accused Zanu (PF) of moving people in unsuitable land in return for votes during election times.
“ There were no health and shopping centre facilities at Kujambanja. Transport was also a major problem as one was forced to walk for a distance of more than 30 kilometres to the nearest bus stop,” said another settler, Kennedy Mhlanga, who has also turned his back on Ridden and has since returned to his rural home in Gwanda.
Some of the land occupiers have resorted to gold panning in the Shangani river as a means of survival.
A Matebeleleland South provincial lands committee member, Silas Ndou admitted that soils in the area were poor. “ Infact , the problem of poor soils is not peculiar to ranches in the Ridden area alone. Matabeleland South is largely a wildlife and cattle rearing region. Securing fertile land for our people in the province has been a major headache,” he said.