Court and UN deal double blow to Mugabe
Zimbabwe's highest court has ruled the government's "fast track" land
acquisition law was unconstitutional and for a second time this year declared
the seizures of white-owned farms illegal.
In the most sweeping ruling
against President Robert Mugabe's land seizure programme, the Supreme Court said
the government had persistently broken the law in farming districts since ruling
party militants were allowed in February to occupy hundreds of white-owned
"Wicked things have been done and continue to be done. They must
be stopped. Common law crimes have been and are being committed with impunity,"
said the 30-page ruling signed by Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay.
cannot ignore the imperative of land reform. We cannot punish what is wrong by
stopping what is right. The reality is the government is unwilling to carry out
a sustainable programme of land reform in terms of its own law," the five judges
said in the ruling.
The court said farmers and their workers had been
denied the protection of the law from violence and intimidation; that they had
suffered discrimination on grounds of political opinions; and that their
movement and rights of association were infringed by farm occupiers, ruling
party militants and state officials - all in violation of constitutional
The "fast track" land acquisition law passed by ruling party
legislators in April violated land owners' constitutional rights to reasonable
notice of seizure to enable them to appeal or make other plan, the court
The judges gave the government until July 1 to show it was
restoring the rule of law in farming areas and formulating "a workable programme
of land reform."
Three previous court orders it won to force police to
remove illegal occupiers from farms and restore law and order have been ignored
by the government.
The ruling came in response to an application by the
Commercial Farmers Union, representing 4,000 white farmers, contesting land
seizures on constitutional grounds.
The union is to issue a statement on
its victory later in the day.
STATEMENT BY MR TIM HENWOOD, CFU PRESIDENT, ON THE SUPREME COURT
JUDGEMENT SC 132/2000
21st December 2000
The judgement issued by the Supreme Court
today is an important step towards finding a lasting solution to land reform in
The Court upheld the Union’s contention
that its members’ Constitutional rights were not being respected. This is
because the farm invasions and present lawlessness are not being dealt with
effectively by the responsible authorities. The judgement confirmed that both
farmers’ and workers’ rights must be respected and the rulings of both the High
and Supreme Courts be implemented.
The Government is given until the
1st July 2001 to formulate a workable land reform programme that can
be implemented within the resources available.
The Commercial Farmers Union respects the
judgement of the Supreme Court and it is my fervent hope that all stakeholders
will grasp this judgement as a timely nation-building opportunity towards
sustainable land reform and a return to Law and Order.
T K Henwood
President – Commercial Farmers’ Union
21st December 2000
TO: ALL CFU MEMBERS
FROM COMMERCIAL FARMERS’ UNION
DATE: 21ST December 2000
RE: JUDGEMENT ON SUPREME COURT APPLICATION
The full bench of the Supreme Court delivered its judgement
today, 21 December 2000, in respect of the CFU’s Constitutional Court
Application relevant to the Land Acquisition exercise.
B. The Court has declared:
- That the rule of law has been persistently violated in commercial farming
areas of Zimbabwe since February 2000, and it is imperative that that situation
be rectified forthwith; and
- That persons in Commercial farming areas have been denied the protection of
the law, in contravention of Section 18 of the Constitution; have suffered
discrimination on the grounds of political opinions and place of origin in
contravention of Section 23 of the Constitution and have had their rights of
assembly and association infringed in contravention of Section 21 of the
- That there is not in existence at the present time a programme of land
reform as that phrase is used in Section 16A of the Constitution; and
- That the purported amendment of Section 5 (4) of the Land Acquisition Act by
Section 3B of Act 15/2000 is null and void as being in conflict with the
requirement of reasonable notice in Section 16 (1) (b) of the Constitution (This
means that the previous one year limitation period now applies again to Section
C. The Court ordered:
- That all Ministers involved in the Land Acquisition exercise and the
Minister of Home Affairs and the Commissioner of Police and President of the
Republic of Zimbabwe comply immediately with the Consent Order of 10 November
2000 in Case No SC 314/2000 (which included the requirement of immediate removal
of all illegal invaders) and that these persons also comply with the Order of
the High Court of 17 March 2000 issued by Justice Garwe. This essentially
required removal again of all unlawful invaders from Commercial Farms and the
prevention of further invasions; and
- That the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Resettlement, the Minister of
Local Government, Public Works and National Housing and the Minister of Rural
Resources and Water Development are to produce a workable programme of land
reform, and, that the Minister of Home Affairs and the Commissioner of Police
are to satisfy the Supreme Court that the rule of law has been restored in the
commercial farming areas of Zimbabwe by no later than 1 July 2001, failing which
no further steps can be taken in the acquisition of land for resettlement.
D. Further aspects of the judgment
- The Court found that legislation promulgated on 7 November 2000 to amend the
Land Acquisition Act was lawful and therefore it was not necessary to determine
whether the Presidential Powers Act or the Regulations thereunder were
constitutional or not.
- The Court found that there was no lawful programme of land reform in
existence at this time and therefore it was not necessary for the purposes of
the judgement concerned to deal with any argument on the question of
- The court specifically held that preliminary section 5 Gazette notices which
were published subsequent to 23 May 2000 remain valid but they are subject to
the one-year expiry limit that existed before the President changed the Land
Acquisition Act in May. Because of this finding you should contact your lawyers
for further advice but the Union advises that you continue to respond to
preliminary notices within the period specified in the Gazette. That is usually
30 days from the date of the Gazette Notice but check the Gazette for your
- The position concerning Section 8 Acquisition Orders is not quite so clear.
Where Government issues a Section 8 Order before going to court (as is the
practice at this time) Government still has to commence court proceeding for
confirmation of the Acquisition within 30 days. There is disagreement between
the lawyers as to when the 30 day period begins and when it ends. It may begin
on the date that the Acquisition Order is signed but there is a strong argument
that it does not begin until the Section 8 Order is served on you. The 30 day
period may end when the court papers are filed at the administrative court but
it is also suggested that the court papers have to be served on the farmer not
more than 30 days after the acquisition order was served. Make sure that you
keep careful notes of when the section 8 order was served on you and when the
court papers were served on you. They can be served on you by leaving them at
your farm with a "responsible person". This can be a domestic worker, so workers
with any degree of authority should be instructed to get a message to you
immediately any papers are brought to your farm.
- There is still nothing that you have to do on receipt of a section 8
acquisition order save to watch out for the arrival of the court papers. You
must nevertheless prepare yourself to answer the court papers and this has to be
done within 15 days of the court papers being served. This is where you really
do need a lawyer. The opposing papers in the court case are very important.
Government is serving court papers even when land is conceded and even when
counter offers have been made but not considered. You must protect your position
by filing papers in court to explain whether you consent, oppose or wish to do a
- Quite obviously, the findings of the Supreme Court that are listed at the
beginning of this memorandum will be further reasons and arguments for the
defense that you can raise in the papers that you file for court. This means
that the suggested responses already circulated to members will need to be
revised and this will be done shortly.
COMMERCIAL FARMERS UNION
21st December 2000
Update # 2000/48 Your comments and opinions mean a lot to us. We are
asking you to help us look back at the Zimbabwean media in the year 2000 with a
short paragraph or two about what you think were the main stories in the year.
Please send your responses to firstname.lastname@example.org
by 11 January 2001.
Best wishes for the holiday season and the New Year!
MEDIA MONITORING PROJECT ZIMBABWE MEDIA UPDATE # 2000/48 Monday 11th
December to Sunday 17th December 2000 SUMMARY · Slavish event reporting
characterized the ZBC and Zimpapers' coverage of ZANU-PF's special people's
Congress. Unlike the private Press, they made no effort to provide their
audiences with objective or expert political interpretation of the events that
took place at the Congress. The Daily News coverage was so minimal it failed to
report some of the decisions taken at Congress.
· Only The Zimbabwe Mirror afforded a full obituary to veteran nationalist
Ndabaningi Sithole; the state media reflected the procrastination of the ruling
party's Politburo to decide whether he warranted the accolade of national hero;
and none of the media asked why it is the prerogative of the ruling party to
decide who is afforded national hero status and not the government.
· The rule of law continued to come under threat in the week with The Daily
News reporting war veterans' plans to terrorize judges and all the media
reporting the threat by Information Minister, Jonathan Moyo, to gag the Law
Society. But only The Daily News reported the Law Society president's criticism
of government's amendment to the Electoral Act as unconstitutional.
· The murder of commercial farmer Henry Elsworth received attention in all
the media. However, while ZBC avoided any speculation about who was
responsible, the private Press accused war veterans without providing the
evidence for this.
THE ZANU PF CONGRESS Coverage of the congress in Zimpapers and ZBC was
a stage- managed event where only the party's leadership and those supporting
them were quoted. In addition, none of the state owned media provided any
objective or expert analysis of events during the congress, limiting themselves
to coverage of speeches and statements made by various participants. There was
no detail of the actual debate that took place within the Congress or of the
discussions in the closed sessions.
However, ZBC still managed to allocate a
disproportionate amount of its television airtime to the Congress. Not only did
it carry live coverage - mainly of the President's speeches - but it also
provided unenlightening summaries after the news bulletins. In addition, 20
percent of the main news bulletins themselves between Wednesday and Saturday was
allocated to Congress reports. ZBCTV's 8pm news on Thursday (14/12) contained a
12- minute report on the Congress. Radio 2/4's 6am bulletins on 13/12 comprised
three items on the Congress out of the 10 items in the bulletin. Similarly,
15/12's 6am bulletins on Radio 1 through to Radio 4 had four items on the
In addition to a plethora of merely administrative reports about
the congress, ZBC bulletins carried stories that begged explanation.
example, why it was necessary to increase the Politburo, and why the succession
issue wasn't put on the agenda, or even raised.
In the main, ZBC and
Zimpapers concentrated on presenting official statements from party spokesmen,
including their gratuitous attacks on whites and the opposition, thereby
allowing themselves to become a platform to further one party's political agenda
at the expense of balance and objectivity.
For example, television and radio
quoted Mugabe saying the courts could not stop the people from governing
themselves, adding that the region faced a dangerous challenge from whites
The television reported Mugabe saying that all other countries
in the region were closing ranks after realizing a threat to their sovereignty
from the white community. The story was repeated in the following morning
bulletins. Radio 1/3's morning bulletins (14/12) reported Mugabe calling upon
Zimbabweans to accept the land issue as their last emancipation and criticized
the judiciary and the British government for obstructing land reform.
means of lending support to Mugabe's remarks, Radio 1/3 and ZBCTV quoted a war
veteran saying government should annex all white arable land and redistribute
it, adding that the whites must reap what they sowed.
ZBC (15/12) reported an
unnamed source saying that delegates had endorsed President Mugabe as the
party's president and first secretary until land resettlement was complete.
There was no explanation how this happened or whether there was any discussion
leading up to this decision.
The only discourse on this topic, and the
appointment of new politburo members, came from the biased perspective of
Information Minister, Jonathan Moyo, on television's Question and Answer segment
of 16/12's 8pm news. In the interview Moyo said Congress was a "reflection of
the kind of dynamism, experience and renewal of what Zanu PF is and it indeed
reflects the popular will of the people." Moyo added that the issue of
succession was an externally propagated one and "came from the opposition who
are afraid of the party". He was never asked to explain himself.
of ruling party representatives from five SADC nations and the stories recording
their support for Zanu PF was given unduly extensive and uncritical coverage, as
was their criticism of the opposition MDC. None of the media questioned their
servile imitation of Mugabe's crude and racist attacks.
Radio and television
6pm and 8pm (16/12) quoted the Zambian, Malawian and Mozambican ruling party
officials saying the MDC was too young to relate to the history of the region
and that by accepting money from whites who wanted a return to colonial rule,
its members were promoting racist interests. Television's 8pm bulletin (17/12)
quoted South Africa and Mozambican officials repeating the
Zimpapers also carried extensive official coverage of the
Congress in their editions and the preparations for it (including a punch-up
between the two Masvingo factions in a fight over accreditation - The Herald
But surprisingly, the state Press (15/12) buried the sabre-rattling,
racist invective contained in Mugabe's speech to Congress the previous day,
preferring instead, to feature the no-debate decision to reaffirm Mugabe's
leadership of the party. Not so the private Press. The Zimbabwe Independent
and The Daily News (15/12)
rightly highlighted his inflamatory attack on the
West, the whites and the MDC. While both papers carried informed analysis about
who was due to be appointed to the new politburo, The Daily News, in its welcome
new Saturday edition, failed to report news of the appointments. Such omissions
suggest that Zimbabweans seeking to be fully informed must obtain further
information from additional sources.
In accessing comment from Edison Zvobgo
and Chen Chimutengwende over their dismissal from the politburo, The Zimbabwe
Standard, also noted criticism among some Central Committee members who
complained that the party's Politburo appears to be usurping its powers as ZANU
PF's supreme structure after the Congress itself.
The paper's comment, A
congress of cowards, best summed up the stance taken by the private Press. Part
of it read:
So the much-heralded (excuse the pun) People's Millennium
Congress has come and gone, and what a predictable farce it turned out to
Generally, the private Press rightly refused to allow the congress to
smother news of other important events in the week.
(ii) SITHOLE DIES All the media announced the death in America of
veteran nationalist Ndabaningi Sithole. But coverage of the issue focused on
the condolence messages sent to Sithole's family, while only ZBC raised the
controversy surrounding his hero status - together with the political errors he
The Politburo was widely reported on ZBC as pondering whether to
accord Sithole national hero status (13/12 6pm and 8pm Radio 1/3 and ZBCTV;
15/12 Radio 2/4 8pm; 16/12 ZBCTV Nhau Indaba and Radio 1/3 and Radio 2/4 16/12
1pm). However, Radio 2/4 delayed covering the controversy and did not report
the mixed feelings among senior government officials over his status in the
bulletins monitored. Nor did The Herald, which allowed the family to raise the
topic of his status in its Friday edition, but studiously avoided seeking any
official government comment. Despite Vice-president Muzenda's remark in The
Herald (13/12) that Sithole's death was "a terrible loss to the country because
of the role he played during the liberation struggle," this cautious reporting
in the state media provided an indication of the decision by the Politburo the
following week not to declare him a national hero.
None of the state media's
news reports questioned the party to clarify how it accords national hero status
or whether there are any clear rules governing the award of such an accolade.
Neither did it question why the Politburo of a single party - and not the
government - has the authority to make decisions regarding a "national
Instead, ZBC's obituaries on Sithole featured the "blemishes" in
his political history and ended with the single fact; that he had died with a
conviction for treason for attempting to assassinate President Mugabe.
The Zimbabwe Mirror gave Sithole's death due prominence through a front-page
story and a two-page obituary. The paper also questioned why the Politburo
needed to sit to decide his national hero status when his credentials spoke for
Sithole is a national hero," it said, "and there is nothing
2. THE RULE OF LAW While the Press widely reported President Mugabe as
stating that "the courts would not be allowed to go against the people's quest
for full sovereignty." The Herald (14/12), and the private Press, The Daily News
(14/12) was the only news organization to report a well-sourced story about war
veterans planning to assault judges in their homes in an effort to terrorize
them into resigning.
The Daily News (12/12) was also the only news
organization to report the Law Society's attack on President Mugabe's
"unconstitutional" amendment to the Electoral Act which invalidates any decision
by the courts to nullify election results before they have even been
However, ZBC, Zimpapers and and the private Press provided wide
coverage of the threat from Information Minister, Jonathan Moyo, to use
Parliament to gag the Law Society. The Daily News reported this fact simply,
while ZBC and Zimpapers dressed it up as indignant outrage (Zimpapers 13/12, and
on Radio 1/3 and television's 8pm news bulletin of 12/12).
Neither ZBC nor
Zimpapers reported the comments from Law Society president Sternford Moyo, in
which he described the amendment as "a serious usurpation by the Executive of
Instead, they highlighted the legal provisions allowing
the President to make any changes he pleases and carried the Minister's threat
to silence the Law Society ".for becoming partisan and synonymous with the views
of people who seem to have an agenda of subverting our national
The Zimbabwe Independent then reported Sternford Moyo dismissing
his namesake's attack as having no legal merit. State media audiences never saw
this either The ZBC report also quoted Moyo as saying that lawyers should not
cry foul because the government had implemented "a lawful thing", adding that if
anyone was offended by government's action, they could go to the courts. All
the Press reported that the MDC had launched a legal challenge to the Electoral
Act modification in the Supreme Court.
Further threats to the rule of law
emerged with the murder of a commercial farmer, carried in more detail
3. LAND The murder of former MP Henry Elsworth was reported in all the
media, but only Radio 1/3 6pm and 8pm provided a contemporary report in ZBC
(13/12) that a Kwekwe farmer had been shot dead by unknown assailants. Even so,
it provided no source for its information. Radio 2/4 only reported the story on
14/12 morning bulletins quoting the ZRP. The ZBCTV report came out on 14/12
6pm and 8pm news quoting Mrs. Elsworth.
The public and private Press reported his murder and ZIMPAPERS' dailies
(14/12) hinted at the possibility that his killers were war veterans by quoting
the police as saying relations between the farmer and the war veterans occupying
his farm "have not been good."
The Daily News (14/12) reported that the
farmer's badly injured son, Ian, believed the war veterans were involved in the
shooting, while The Herald reported that he had received death threats earlier
in the year. However, it also reported war veterans' leader, Chenjerai Hunzvi,
dismissing this, although he went on to utter threats and statements that
conflicted with his denial:
We are not talking to farmers because dialogue
has broken down and I don't think it's going to resume. We are fighting for our
land and whosoever is killed, it's tough luck. In fact it is now going to be
very hard for commercial farmers.
They may not even reap or harvest the crops
they have planted. We have finished negotiating with them and what is now left
is confrontation. We respected them too much.
Hunzvi's blatant threats were
thus reported without challenge or condemnation by The Chronicle and The
Herald. And in a follow-up two days later, The Herald (16/12) quoted Hunzvi
threatening to sue The Zimbabwe Independent for a story that categorically
declared that war veterans had killed Elsworth without providing any evidence
for this. Radio 1/3 and television (15/12) Nhau Indaba/6pm and 8pm also
reported this. Even so, in The Herald, Hunzvi was sounding more conciliatory
when he claimed that the war veterans had met Elsworth three weeks before his
death and the farmer had offered a farm for resettlement:
inform Governor Cephas Msipa about the offer since his office is co-ordinating
resettlement in the Midlands province. So how could we have killed someone who
was holding negotiations with us in such good faith?
The Daily News (14/12)
also quoted CFU president Tim Henwood saying:
"The murder of Henry Elsworth
represents the ultimate political intimidation against farmers and is a
reflection of the depths of lawlessness to which we have sunk."
Zimpapers' Saturday editions continued to supply readers with uncritical
speech reporting in the story, Dismiss policemen impeding land reforms, says
Hunzvi. The Herald again quoted Hunzvi accusing some police officers of working
in cahoots with the MDC and some commercial farmers to evict people who had
This is unacceptable to us and we are going to identify the
officers so that they are fired. If they are not fired then we will deal with
them The paper reported this open threat against the police without challenging
Hunzvi about the lawless implications of his statement or obtaining police
Taken together, the reports merely corroborate the general belief
that war veterans have indeed become a law unto themselves.
done nothing to disabuse the public of this impression.
ENDS Send all queries
to the Project Coordinator, MMPZ, 221 Fife Avenue, Harare, Tel/fax: 263 4
734207, 733486, E-mail:email@example.com
, Web: http://www.icon.co.zw/mmpz