MDC, Take a Leaf from former commercial farmers

via MDC, Take a Leaf from former commercial farmers November 29, 2013 by Benjamin Semwayo ZimbabweSituation Facebook

On countless occasions the MDC has approached the Zimbabwean courts to have its political grievances heard, but although it has never won a case, it keeps lodging cases with the same partisan courts, laying bare its lack of imagination and resourcefulness. It had a chance to overhaul the judicial system during the GNU years but it failed to utilise that opportunity. Now the losing MDC parliamentary hopefuls have resorted to the same ineffective course of action of seeking redress in the same dubious courts, whose rulings are as predictable as daylight, in a futile effort to have the election anomalies rectified. Newspaper reports are proclaiming that, true to expectations, their cases are crumbling one by one despite the compelling evidence supporting them.

Perhaps the MDC can learn a thing or two from the former white commercial farmers who lost their land under the ruinous land distribution programme. They quickly realised that local courts presided over by Mugabe’s personal appointees would never give impartial rulings. Mike Campbell and 77 other farmers, the aggrieved individuals, approached an independent Southern African tribunal to have the unfavourable rulings against them quashed, and for the first time they tasted victory as the government was ordered to repay them for their losses and was slapped with a R200 000 punitive costs order. Unfortunately their joy was short-lived because Mugabe cunningly used his law-of-the-jungle influence to have the tribunal itself abandoned, putting paid to their quest for justice.

Undeterred by the unfortunate turn of events, they unrelentingly sought alternative means of securing justice. They turned to AfriForum, a South African lobby group which, after a four-year legal battle, was able to secure a favourable ruling for them, resulting in the government being forced to hand over large amounts of money after Cape Town house, its property in South Africa, had been attached to recover the money.

Not content with the partial success, they put their innovative skills to good use again and identified another independent court they could rely on. How they stumbled upon a US court with authority to summon the Zimbabwean government to appear before it, only they can explain, but they did manage to force the errant regime to attend and, according to press reports, Lands minister Douglas Mombeshora recently attended that court case in the US.

There are some very important lessons to be learnt from this example. First, the zeal with which you pursue a cause is directly correlated with the importance you attach to the cause. These farms were everything to the farmers, their very livelihoods. Without the farms they feel they have no lives at all, which is why they are fighting the government with every fibre of their being. The MDC leadership, by comparison, has been accused of being half-hearted in its fight against ZanuPF. There is a disturbing lacklustre, run-of-the-mill streak in its performance because they are ensconced in luxury, viewing their jobs as merely 8 to 5 jobs and having a penchant for expensive holidays abroad, golf and the finest things of life. They have tasted the high life of fast cars and cash, which they are always eager to snap up, regardless of where they come from (ZanuPF included), and are not consumed with a burning desire to end ZanuPF’s illegitimate rule. When it comes to demanding hefty pay increases the MDC MPs speak with one voice with their ZanuPF counterparts, forgetting that the two groups are supposed to have different ideals. They do not have a sense of urgency about change because they have elitist mindsets and are more than contented.

Secondly, the farmers have shown that there are independent courts out there and if we are diligent in seeking them out we will find them. If the courts have time for the grievances of only 78 farmers how much more for those of an entire disgruntled nation of 15 000 000? The problem is the MDC leadership is failing to be proactive, resourceful and innovative. They cannot tell the nation that it will have to endure hardships until 2018 when the next election (which is likely to be stolen again) is due because they have exhausted every possibility and have concluded that nothing can be done.

Now that Tendai Biti has gone back to full time law practice and has many international contacts we hope he will crack this riddle for us and have ZanuPF hauled before independent courts to be stripped of its fraudulent victory. The much hyped MDC election dossier should come in handy too!

Finally, a quick note on the example of commercial farmers used in this article before it is seized and distorted out of all proportion, and I am savaged by you know who. I believe that land redistribution is necessary, given the ugly colonial history of land ownership in the country. What most Zimbabweans and I object to is the way it was done. It was not done according to the laws of the land enacted by the government itself; it reduced the country from a bread basket to a beggar; it was haphazard and was not the result of careful, progressive planning; land was only given to Mugabe’s cronies, or in exchange for allegiance to him; it was needlessly bloody against bona fide citizens of the country; and it was none other than the state that fanned the flames of violence and rewarded the perpetrators. ZanuPF had ruled the country from 1980 to 1999, and in that time it was conspicuous by its silence on the question of land redistribution. Then in 1999 the nation rejected Mugabe’s deceitfully produced, self-serving national constitution, and suddenly his eyes were opened to people’s need for land, and the land redistribution programme had to be rolled out so very urgently that the law must be cast aside; it did not matter if it resulted in food shortages, loss of lives or another brand of inequitable distribution. Zimbabweans believe in the sanctity of life and the sacredness of blood, regardless of whether that life or blood belongs to a black white man. Land was used as a bribe to win back people’s favour, but some people gave Mugabe a slap in the face, telling him they did not take bribes.

The MDC should be made aware that the nation looks to it for a speedy solution to the current problem where an undeserving coterie occupies the highest office in the land. It is time it flexed legal its muscles and put an end to the unending cycle of stolen elections. If it does not, it may be supplanted by another party, a no-nonsense people’s party.

Benjamin Semwayo


  • comment-avatar
    MikeH 8 years ago

    The only solution to Zimbabwe’s problems is the death of both mugabe and his zanupf party, the replacment of all partisan security forces and justice system, amongst other things. Whilst my motto is “Never Say Never”, frankly, I see little hope of ALL the people having even a half decent future.

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    mwana wevhu 8 years ago

    Can the real MDC T affiliates please stand up.I am overwhelmed by the wealth and depth of reason, passion and resolve awash in public debate. Surely all this quality should count for something, or is the leadership too daft to LISTEN like the perrennially self imposing AUTOCRACY?

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    Mabasa 8 years ago

    Do be cowards have you ever seen a dictatorship that lived for ever. Be it Hitler, Kadafi, Saddam, Ian Smith or Both a dedicated fight will bring them down. The problem is that MDC lacks the fire in the belly. Its a party of too many chancers who are content with what they have instead of fighting for democratic change

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    lawyer 8 years ago

    It would be good if people would research before writing such absolute rubbish.
    The commercial farmers are stupid and let themselves be conned by ignorant journalists.
    International law in respect of land is the law of the country oin whicj the land is situate in this case Zimbabwe.
    CFU and JAG funded by UK took spurious cases in countries where there was no jurisdiction as a smoke screen
    UK funded CFU AND JAG condional that they did not claim against the compensation fund established in 2000 by Robin Cook.
    It was a condition that they employ a full time lawyer to lobby for the removal of Britains liability in our constitution which was achieved.
    Idiots think you can take a case in any country but all it achieves is propaganda as they need jurisdiction which they don’t have.Look AT Laws on enforceability of judgment’s such as the Brussels convention for the enforceability of judgment’s.
    Robin Cook formed a fund for the commercial farmers in 2000 but there has been not even one claim submitted- if there was funding for CFU and KAG would stop.
    Local lawyers are funded as well to advise cases in countries with no jurisdiction as a smoke screen – it worked so well that MDC who promoted this and the removal of the clause stating Britain liable for compensation from our constitution.
    Think!!! the clause stating that Britain was responsible was agreed in the GPA by all parties and then removed how much did it cost – the UK/CFU lawyer was successful.
    Its cheaper to fund the CFU and JAG and a few cooked local lawyers than pat 10 BILLION compensation.
    Please before you make idiotic statements and write ridiculous articles do some research its not hard use Google.
    The commercial farmers were far from clever they were thick to trust the CFU in the knowledge that they were funded by Britain

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    Johann 8 years ago

    Look north to the Congo and there you will see the future of Zimbabwe. The country has too many resources and easily corruptible politicians that are a walk over for any Oliogarth of the world. Democracy never has and will never exist.

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    Thembani 8 years ago

    You keep talking about MDC?This thing ceased existing,when it became Tsvangirai’s personal property. MDC is dead.MDC was a peoples movement hijacked by Tsvangirai and Co.

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    Some interesting points from contributors. I find those from Lawyer more interesting. What spoils them is the primitive insults. But frankly there is some points in that the funders wanted the British exonerated from their Lancaster House Conference commitments. I am not surprised by this stance. The British will always want to give an impression that there is some internal conflict while they are funding their own interests. But all in all it is what the majority of the ordinary Zimbabweans undergo, see and experience in their daily lives. People see how a Zanupf Mashonaland West guru Phillip Chiyangwa dirty in riches he is. They feel the pain of going to the bank and failing to get all their money. They are separated from their children who are laughing iterms in confused South Africa. You know all these azre real issues. Laws and their interpretations are for the likes of Benje and Lawyer. For the majority it is the simple basic needs: Food shelter

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      lawyer 8 years ago

      This the problem with Zimbabwe activists they all think that laws and interpretations are for someone else and why should any member of the public deserve to be protected from journalists or any other superior being who only has opinion without the knowledge or fact to go with it.

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    Hwandamakwakwa 8 years ago

    Lawyer speaks a load of rubbish. My guess is that he is a C10 paid for making comments that mislead the public. He complains about propaganda but he himself is being used to spread ZANUpf’s propaganda. He says international courts have no jurisdiction to try the Zimbabwe government. If that is true why was Cape Town House nearly auctioned and why did the government pay up in the end? Why did Doudlas Mombeshora attend the court case in the US? A court in SA has also ruled that ZANUpf’s atrocities in the 2008 elections must be investigated and the generals responsible arrested should they set their feet in SA, and now in ZANUpf circles they are running around like headless chickens. Then somebody says that external courts have no jurisdiction to try Zimbabwe government officials!&%#?? I you believe that then you will believe anything. The writer of this article has a valid point. The MDC should stop wasting its time on Zimbabwean courts but should embark on a ‘look outside’ legal policy. That is the only thing that will bring the desired results.

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      lawyer 8 years ago

      I m so sorry you don’t have the IQ or energy to search on google or visit Harare Power station.
      May I make a suggestion in the circumstances, conserve more energy and don’t make any more comments until you have an idea what you are talking about.

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      lawyer 8 years ago

      To make it easy land is always the kaw of the country where it is situate.
      Human rights have one court called the Hague where only cases that suit the west may be tried – jurisdiction is forced voa the UN.
      Hope this cures your confusion
      In Constitutional matters there is no superior court to our constitutional court that has any jurisdiction.
      We do have unfortunately a few local lawyers who thought that the GPA might over-rule the court but they need to go back to university and start again.
      Imagine the chaos if a court makes a ruling but you may form a private organization and change the ruling – what a stupid thought.

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    Hwandamakwakwa 8 years ago

    Lawyer I see you are really obstinate, making baseless assertions. The fact of the matter is that there are courts outside the borders of Zimbabwe that can and will make rulings that will be thorns in the side of the rogue leaders of our beloved nation. If you believe that they have no capability to do that then just watch as the events unfold, the we will see who really doesn’t have the IQ to understand the dynamics of international law in relation to our unfortunate man-made disaster of a situation.