It is now just over a month since the news that the decision to acquire Maleme Farm, which includes the Ebenezer Training Centre, had been reversed by Vice President Mphoko (see our post from the 1st April). Rodney Mashingaidze, a district officer in the President’s Office and a senior official in the CIO (the secret service) had decided that he was going to take over (steal) Ebenezer Training Centre, Shalom and Maleme Farm. As usual for people in his kind of position in Zimbabwe, this was without any legal process and with what he thought would be impunity. However, the intervention of Vice President Mphoko has thwarted all this and we shouldn’t underestimate just how significant his decision and action is!
It is good to be able to report that business has returned to normal at Ebenezer, Shalom and the farm. We are told that there has been a real sense of celebration for the people living in the community around Maleme and near to Ebenezer. This is combined with a great swell of faith as they have seen with their our own eyes the very real way in which God can answer prayer! Their lives would have been deeply affected if the planned acquisition had gone ahead, with many of them losing their jobs on the farm and as support workers at Ebenezer. People in the community have also benefited from being able to graze their own cattle on large areas of the farm for many years at no cost.
Apparently there is still some work to be done to secure the official paperwork confirming the reversal of the acquisition, but once that is completed they will celebrate with a thanksgiving service for the community at Shalom. We will let you know once we hear that the official paperwork is complete.
In the past four weeks, much work has also been going on at Shalom and Maleme to revive neglected crops and re-establish normality. Everyone is enjoying being back at work and we are told bookings at the Shalom Camp Site are flooding in once again. At Ebenezer the apprentices are enjoying a sense of security now that the project no longer faces the threat of closure. In the words of one staff member, “We are at home and no one is now going to tell us to leave.”
One of the good outcomes of the situation over the past few months is the way in which it has raised the profile of the work of many churches in Matabeleland to help see the potential of small scale farmers fulfilled. Ebenezer has also been propelled into a greater position to bring hope and light to the nation and to further build the capacity of small scale farmers throughout Matabeleland and Zimbabwe.
In light of this there are plans for the expansion of the work at Ebenezer which include putting in a further 30 hectares of vegetable production this year, bringing the total to 60 hectares. Thereafter, the plan is to put in a further 50 hectares each year for the next 4 years, bringing it to a total of 260 hectares (642 acres). This will in turn greatly increase the capacity at Ebenezer for the number of apprentices. Bear in mind that Foundations in Farming, the method of agriculture being taught at Ebenezer, is what is generally called Conservation Farming which is pretty much all done by hand – there are no tractors! Alongside this they are planning to increase the broiler chicken (bred and raised specifically for meat production) capacity to 100,000 birds and the layer (egg production) capacity to 30,000 birds.
Since his visit to Ebenezer and his meetings with the area Chiefs and people in the community, all this will be in line with the Vice President’s own wishes. He has spoken of his desire to see Ebenezer (together with the establishment of other Ebenezers in different parts of the country) be a harbinger of change in Zimbabwe and help in the the growth of sustainable productive agriculture amongst its indigenous people. What a great turn around! We can pray that this will continue to be the case.