THE resistance of the Matobo villagers to the Maleme Ranch take-over by a State spy shows that people power can emerge victorious against any regime, no matter how brutal and Zimbabweans can draw lessons from it to push back injustices, analysts said.
State spy Rodney Mashingaidze was allocated Maleme Ranch, belonging to Peter Cunningham, but the move was met with stiff resistance from chiefs, villagers, opposition parties and civic society activists.
Villagers and chiefs never stopped holding meetings and vigils at Maleme Ranch, while seeking intervention from Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko and Lands minister Douglas Mombeshora to reverse the acquisition.
They said Maleme was their only source of livelihood as they operated many farming and poultry projects bankrolled by Cunningham. Churches supported them.
On Sunday, Mphoko visited Maleme, met chiefs and ordered Mashingaidze to vacate the place and look for a farm elsewhere, echoing the war-cry of the villagers.
Analysts said the resistance of villagers was a clear reminder of the liberation war, that people power can push back any oppression and injustices, and long-suffering Zimbabweans can learn from it.
“Maleme reminded us of what the war of liberation was really about,” political analyst and former executive director of Bulawayo Agenda, Thabani Nyoni, said.
“They pushed back racism, oppression, power and privilege and took back their land, incomes, livelihoods and most importantly, their dignity.
“What we saw in Maleme is that people have the power to push back power, privilege and oppression and the power to take back their freedom and dignity.
He added: “In Maleme, people exposed our ruling elites for who they are; exposed ruling politicians’ societal myth that deserving and needy Zimbabweans are getting the land.
“Because of these ordinary villagers, we now have yet another tangible example of how land in Zimbabwe is largely grabbed from those either needing it or deserving it and given to those who have worked hard to keep our politicians in power.”
South Africa-based media scholar and political analyst Trust Matsilele indicated that this could mark the beginning of mass resistance to oppression by the Zanu PF government and even protests against poverty.
“This could just be the beginning of people power in a country that has been oppressed for far too long, all revolutions do not start in predictable ways, but in retrospect we always say that was the trigger and that even played a role in shaping history,” he said.
“We learn that people have power and regardless of how brutal a system could be in this digital age it becomes difficult for brute force to prevail without being exposed.
“We learn that increasingly President Robert Mugabe’s use of force is depleting and with time the people shall rise and who knows we might see Zimbabweans once again defining their destiny.”
Recently, farm workers at Barquest Farm in Masvingo resisted the takeover of the hatchery farm owned by Helen Mitchell by Tourism minister Walter Mzembi.
They petitioned the Zanu PF provincial executive to stop Mzembi and last week, newly-appointed Provincial Affairs minister Shuvai Mahofa threw her support behind them and reversed the farm acquisition.
Mahofa said the minister should apply for land elsewhere.
Former Education minister David Coltart said the action of the Matobo villagers offered hope that evil could be overcome if people unite and implored the church, he accused of being quiet, to speak out against injustices.
“It is a great example of how people of all races can work together in Zimbabwe to overcome evil using peaceful means,” he wrote on his Facebook wall.
“I am grateful that the local church stood against an obvious injustice.
“My prayer is that the church will now find its voice and the necessary courage to speak out against other injustices — it has been far too mute for far too long.
“There are, of course, many ongoing injustices taking place in our beloved land, but we must rejoice when there is at least one glimmer of hope.”
MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu and his counterpart in the MDC-Renewal, Jacob Mafume, said Zimbabweans should copy Matobo villagers and not pretend as if things are normal, and confront the government head-on to stop their suffering.
“In fact, the rest of the people of Zimbabwe should take vital lessons from the bravery and heroism of the Matobo villagers,” Gutu said.
“This is the time for all patriotic Zimbabweans to stand up to the excesses of the crumbling and faction-ridden Zanu PF regime.”
MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai has called for mass protests, but is yet to say when they will be held.
Mafume added: “We need to find our voices more on community issues and realise that leadership is available in communities to protect what they cherish.
“We need more and more citizen action on key issues and then we can begin to change the country, so the biggest lesson is we have the power and the power is within us.”