State security agents have reportedly been deployed in large numbers in Chilonga, Chiredzi district where a Midlands-based dairy company, Dendairy, was granted land to grow grass for its cows.
Some civil society organisations believe the deployment of security agents is meant to flush out strangers and contain the flow of information on government activities in the area.
Members of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), Zimbabwe Intelligence Corps, Military Intelligence Department, the Police Internal Security Intelligence and the Zimbabwe Prisons Intelligence Services are believed to be roaming the area.
Masvingo Centre for Research, Advocacy and Development director Ephraim Mtombeni at the weekend claimed one of his members was approached by the CIO last week. Mthombeni said:
We are worried because members of the CIO approached Livison Chikutu who is one of Macrad members. Fortunately, he was not at home. One of them identified himself as Talent.
If the project is for lucerne production only, then why are all these security personnel coming to Chilonga? he asked.
As an organisation, we condemn this kind of intimidation. The matter is before the courts of law, so why all this harassment? They should let the law decide what should be done.
Chikutu was the first applicant in a matter filed at Masvingo High Court. He is a son and representative of Headman Vhelemu.
In July last year Shangaan community leaders in Chiredzi East, among them Dhlayani Chiandlala, John Petro, Itai Machuukele, Ganyani Chigombe, Graesham Marilele, Bernard Vhekenya, Funny Macholoti and John Gezani, were summoned by the CIO and interrogated.
The local leaders were accused of inciting their subjects to resist government plans to relocate them to pave way for the Dendairy multi-million-dollar lucerne production project.
However, State Security Minister Owen Ncube denied that CIO operatives were intimidating Chilonga villagers.