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.