THE reversal of the unpopular takeover of Maleme Ranch in Matabo district of Matabeleland South by government spy Rodney Mashingaidze should be hailed as a triumph for people power.
Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko made the announcement that the government had reversed the allocation of the farm owned by Peter Cunningham on Sunday and the news was met with wild celebrations in the area.
The farm has significant value not only for the surrounding community, but the region at large as it provides a refuge for Christians and is a crucial player in the economy.
Mashangaidze probably used his position as a government official to identify a property that would give him quick returns, but this would have come at the expense of the community and the region’s economy.
Cunningham’s case showed vividly the ugly side of the land reform programme where racial differences were used to identify properties for acquisition without paying attention to the role commercial farmers play in a community.
The people of Maleme deserve the praise going their way for standing firm in the face of victimisation by State security agents that were doing Mashingaidze’s bidding.
This week 12 villagers would appear at the Kezi Magistrates’ Courts for trying to resist the takeover of the farm and their plight would mar celebrations that should be rocking the district by now.
There would be attempts by Zanu PF to hijack this victory by the villagers as demonstrated by the desperate claims that it was Mphoko who showed his hand in the case.
The people know that the lands committee that allocated Mashingaidze that piece of land is chaired by Matabeleland Provincial Affairs minister Abedinico Ncube, a Zanu PF kingpin.
Ncube actually ridiculed traditional leaders that sought his intervention and accused them of trying to protect white interests.
Zanu PF has aptly demonstrated it does not have the interests of the people at heart. The Maleme volte face by the government shows that nothing beats people power. A united people will always prevail even against the most evil oppressor.