|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
From The Star (SA), 12 September
New laws to aid Mugabe's land grab
Harare - President Robert Mugabe's government is to rush new laws through Zimbabwe's Parliament that will make it easier to seize white-owned land. It would increase the penalty for farmers who disobeyed eviction orders, the country's state press reported on Thursday. The Herald said Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa notified Parliament on Wednesday that he would introduce a bill that would remove legal requirements that had slowed down the process of land seizures. A drive last month to force over 3 000 farmers off their property was only partially successful because state officials bungled the orders and were overturned by the courts. Last week Chinamasa admitted there had "not been full compliance" with the issue of 90-day eviction orders. However, he warned that "no farmer should take any comfort from failure or oversight by government officials" because he would introduce laws that remove the legal protection for property owners. The Herald said Chinamasa gave notice he would ask Parliament to lift legal requirements to allow his proposed amendments be discussed first by ministerial committees and by his legal committee.
The current law obliges the government to reissue eviction orders which give the farmers affected another 90 days in which to wind up their affairs. The new law would give the farmer with a reissued order only five days, the Herald said. Most of the 3 000 eviction orders issued last month were nullified by a high court order which ruled that they had to be served on both the owner and any financial institution holding a bond on the property at the same time. In terms of Chinamasa's proposed amendments, the government would be able to serve them on the financial institution at any time. The current law said the government had to prove in court that the land it wanted to seize was "suitable for agricultural resettlement". The amendments would do away with the clause. The amendments would also increase the fine for non-compliance with an eviction order from Z$20 000 to Z$100 000. The government has said it intends seizing 11-million hectares of land and claims it would leave the commercial farming sector of 4 500 families with 200 000 hectares.