COMMERCIAL FARMERS' UNION
Farm Invasions and Security Report
This report does not purport to cover all
the incidents that are taking place in the commercial farming areas.
Communication problems and the fear of reprisals prevent farmers from reporting
all that happens. Farmers names, and in some cases farm names, are omitted to
minimise the risk of reprisals.
NATIONAL REPORT IN BRIEF:
garage owner badly beaten
Government valuators continue throughout the
Starting of fires continues
Poaching and snaring of animals
On Bita Estates six cattle were found dead
On Merryhill farm
the owners’ mother was attacked early on Sunday evening
Four members of
Clairemont were held hostage from Friday to Saturday morning
alive in Wedza
planting of seedbeds on Rhinebuck Farm was prevented but once negotiations had
been completed the owner was permitted to continue, however he has now been
prevented from planting the seedlings. In anticipation of further problems the
owner has begun to dismiss some of his labour force.
Mvurwi A complete set
of 25 irrigation sprinklers was stolen last night on Arda Farm. The Police have
been called in and investigations are under way. There has been a marked
increase in activity amongst the illegal settlers where building etc is
concerned and none of the farmers have been allowed to plant any
Tsatsi On the 25th of September a Government vehicle with two
officials travelled throughout the area issuing Section 5 notices to the farmers
whose farms had been listed in the paper on the 7th of September.
On the same
day the meeting which had been scheduled between the DA and the illegal settlers
on Nangura Farm never took place and the farmer is still being prevented from
planting the tobacco. A group of hostile illegal settlers ordered all farming
operations to cease on Nyachura Farm . The Police and the DA were called in and
after lengthy negotiations the situation was defused and the planting was
allowed to continue. The owner of Three Sisters Farm recently had a meeting with
the DA, but no farming operations have been allowed as yet. The illegal
settlers on Msorodoni Farm have ordered the owner and labourers to cease all
farming operations. There is widespread tree cutting, snaring, deliberate
setting of fires and theft of irrigaion equipment happening on a daily
Mashonaland West North
Tramore Farm the farmer has still not been
granted permission by the local settlers to utilise i.e. ridge/contour/plant the
50 Ha of unprepared land for the tobacco crop and the seedlings are beginning to
die. The current work stoppage has prevented any work in the fields since 7th
September 2001.The work stoppage has also affected Buckstone and Wynhill. On
Glen Athol Farm settlers have made demands for transport to move grass etc.,
bricks to build houses, maize meal to be sold to them and for an animal to be
slaughtered for them. All demands have been refused. When an electric fence was
to be erected settlers caused a problem and the contractors from Harare left not
to return. The farmer was told to complete grading, reap the wheat and then to
get off. Tobacco moved from Wichens for grading caused a problem and the
settlers are getting workers to demand that they be paid twice for the work.
On Bickleighvale Farm a work stoppage occurred with all young workers demanding
gum boots and overalls. This supposedly had nothing to do with settlers but the
Chairman was called in by the newly elected workers committee, and he did not
even come to gate to mediate. Chimwemwe Farm workers were paid off yesterday.
Gapwuz and Nec did not arrive as witnesses so the Chairman of the settlers was
called in as a witness. The attitude of workers swung towards settlers view
point and they feel the farmer is not doing enough to compromise. The farmer
will stop work on his beds today. On Newlands Farm work stoppage still
continues, occasional disturbances between settlers and labour. Wichens Farm
owner is off the farm and the resident settler has got youth guarding barns and
house at night. Zesa was turned off which means there is no water. The
settlers tried to get everyone in the compound to pay for it to be switched on
again to no avail. Gwarati Farm still no work. They are awaiting the D.A who
has not arrived although several calls have been made to him. Farmer working a
small patch which has not been pegged. Portelet Estates - On 25th September
2001, two employees who were pulling out weeds in lands which had been ploughed
for the irrigated tobacco crop were threatened with assualt and chased away by
seven settlers. On 27th September 2001a mob of settlers, led by Mr Innocent
Chimanga, arrived at the farm complex wanting to see the farmer to pass on a
directive from their Chairman, Mr Phillemon Mataka. As the farmer was away for
the morning they left their demands with the farm clerk as follows : to stop all
work in the lands prepared for tabacco, they want to burn their lands including
the Game Fence; they claim that an agreement was reached to move all cattle off
the farm by Mid September 2001 and this has not been done. (This was agreed but
due to the Cattle Movement Restriction, as a result of Foot and Mouth disease,
contact had been made with Mr Mataka who said that this deadline would be
postponed); they claim gates have been securely tightened, they want these
opened; they say that the farmer does not own the farm dams nor the fish in
them; they claimed that some farm workers are provoking them or using
provocative abusive language or behaviour.
A Retired garage owner drove to
his gate, opened it, drove his vehicle through and as he was closing the gate he
was severely assaulted by a person who had been hiding in the bush. Jo was
forced to the kitchen door, opened it and the assailant struck him on the head
several times, or maybe bashed his head against the wall several times until he
was unconscious. The next morning the maid found him on the kitchen floor and
notified Police and neighbours. He was given First Aid by the District nurse,
rushed to Chinhoyi and then taken to Avenues Clinic Harare. He is being
operated on today Thursday. Damage to sinus and numerous head injuries.
Items stolen: His watch, his wallet and cash, his video, telephone, small
clock, mid-band hand-held radio and charger. A $20,000.00 reward has been
offered for information leading to the arrest of the culprit.
Agritex team pegging at Katawa extension and is continuing to other farms. The
Street, in particular Buwi Farm are having problems with compensation to War
Vets and the situation is hostile. District seems pretty quiet. Chimbada Farm
and Yomba Farm have been told they will not be farming after the wheat has come
off. On Upper Romsey settlers have stolen 2 hydrant taps and 2 bends valued at
$32000.00 and 2 fan belts . They are pushing cattle onto Upper Romsey and are
ring barking big trees . 70 ha of wheat land has been pegged. Every time the
settlers put cattle into a concentration calves are lost. There are approx 100
people fishing daily at the dam. The valuator has not yet started. Settlers have
taken over Dumalan, Maysma and Marnette. Offers have been made to assist them
with ploughing but they would not give their names and IDs for the contract.
Landfall Farm is missing cattle and the irrigation pipes have been axed with a
loss of 26 kms of drip. The farmer is unable to plant tobacco. Makonde Farm has
had 60ha of gums burnt out for the second time, together with grazing leaving no
pasture for 200 head of cattle. The farmer has been told not to plant a crop
Mashonaland West South
NORTON: All the farmers previously
effected by not be allowing to plant crops remain in the same position and
workers are currently having to be laid off in large numbers as a result.
SELOUS: On Railway Farm 26, which has never been listed and has recently
received a Certificate of No Interest signed by Minister Made, pegging is taking
place at the D.A's instruction. It appears that they are creating much smaller
plots of around an acre each. On Homedale the owner is still unable to plant and
his workers have been intimidated to such an extent that they are currently not
allowed to report for work. On Carskey, which is not listed but has been
illegally pegged by the District Administrator, the people that he placed there
were complaining that the roofs of their huts being eaten by cattle. The Police
came out to verify this and found that the roofs have not been eaten. The
illegal occupiers drove over five hundred cattle off the farm anyway to Mount
Carmel Farm where they were put in the citrus nursery and the owner's garden,
doing several hundred thousand dollars worth of damage. Police came out again,
but no arrests were made and fires were lit all over Carskey farm the next day,
one of which came close to burning the owner's house down. When the Regional
Executive Officer spoke to Dispol and the District Administrator he was told
that if any arrests were made it would make matters worse!
CHEGUTU / SURI
SURI: On San Fernando Don Carlos of Norton infamy has moved into the manager's
house after having moved the manager out.
KADOMA / BATTLEFIELDS: On Umsweswe
River Block 10A where the owner has been forced off the farm, the barns have
been broken into.
GENERAL: The veterinary authorities tend to be giving
movement permits to illegal occupiers to move cattle onto people's farms if they
produce the receipt from Rural District Council for their Development Levy.
Rural District Council appear to be in the business of collecting their levies
from the same property twice. The Abuja Agreement does not appear to have
effected any change in the way that local Government Officials deal with the
illegal activity continuing to face farmers.
Bromley/Ruwa/Enterprise Government evaluators have been visiting more
farms over the weekend with a view to the model A2 commercial resettlement
Macheke/Virginia A number of strange tractors have been spotted
driving around Murrayfield farm. The situation on Flint farm is still
unresolved. On Howgate farm illegal occupiers demanded that all labour working
outside of the yard fence were to be moved back into the fence and that only
grading would be allowed to continue. The labour had been moving a centre
pivot. Owner reported the problem to CIO in Marondera as well as the Macheke
police. The situation for the rest of the day was calm but the problem was
unresolved. The owner of Barrymore farm was away on Friday night when an
altercation between occupiers and labour developed and half the farm village was
burnt down. Police were informed on Friday night and reacted swiftly that night
and arrested three people. Occupiers on Castledene Pines demanded that the owner
go down to the barns to meet them, but the owner was advised not to comply.
Later they came to the gate and they wanted all the labour out of the farm
village. All the labour were paid off and threatened to burn the farm village.
The owner negotiated that he would visit Gapwuz and NEC offices on Wednesday,
along with one of the occupiers, and that once the labour return from their
leave they would be paid off according to NEC & Gapwuz regulations if there
is no change. 15 labour would be allowed to remain behind as guards. The
situation has temporarily been resolved. The owner is waiting for the DA and
lands committee to visit the farm as the farm is theoretically delisted so
should be continuing with farming operations.
Wedza There was widespread
snaring on Rapako farm this weekend and 40 impala and 3 sable were snared.3
snares were taken off brahman calves. All the cattle were pushed into very small
home paddocks and one cow was slashed. A cow and her calf are still missing.
Thirty illegal occupiers have been topping paprika seedlings for their own use.
The owner of the farm was chased out of his greenhouse by illegal occupiers with
sticks. On Fels farm a plastic covering of seedbeds were slashed and twenty-five
gunshots were heard around the farm houses. Nothing was found but it is believed
Zimunya is intimidating. On Bita Estates six cattle were found dead and one was
found stuck in the mud, but no meat was taken. Local illegal occupier Chirinda
has instructed that all cattle on Nelson and Sutton farms be moved off the farm
by 30/09/2001. On Leads farm a water pump was stolen and ten communal cattle
were moved onto the farm. Workers on Corby farm were beaten up by squatters and
the workshop was broken into with a number of tools being stolen. Scorror farm
had Agritex coming to peg on Monday and wanting squatters to move off on
Wednesday. Six poachers killed a warthog on Saturday and on Sunday shot and
killed a kudu on Lilifontein farm. The police were informed and reacted six
hours later. On Merryhill farm the owners’ mother was attacked early on Sunday
evening, beaten unconscious and her house stripped electrically. She was taken
to Borradaile Hospital and is recovering. Thirty irrigation pipes were stolen on
Boisserain farm on Saturday night. An ambush was put in place and two arrests
were made. On Skoonveld farm there was a large meeting with illegal occupiers
and they are wanting all labour to be moved off Bickley farm immediately. They
have apparently stopped beating up the labour. Agritex were pegging on Nurenzi
farm, on completion it is understood they will be moving to Imire and then to
Msasa. At Dean farm five fires were deliberately lit simultaneously in separate
paddocks. As farmers and workers battled the flames, two more fires were lit at
ponts furthest from the firefighters. A thousand hectares of grazing was lost.
On the following morning a fire broke out early and as peole fought the flaes
more fires were lit ahead and behind them. By the afternoon all fires had been
extinguished, but by five o'clock a new fire was burning. Cattle that were
unable to escapae this orgy of fire were burnt alive. At least six cows and
three calves were burnt to death. A stack of 500 bales of hay were burnt,
trailers in the shed security fence had tyres burnt, farm village kitchens and
chicken coops were also destroyed.
Chipinge - On the
28/09/01 a British director and wife of Watershed Estate together with an
English clergyman and a visiting US citizen were illegally detained and
intimidated inside the security fence of Watershed Estate homestead following a
dispute over photographs being taken. A seventeen strong delegation consisting
of Agritex, CIO, ZRP, Army, illegal squatters, 'war veterans' and DA Office
personnel arrived at 1400hrs to demand that felled tree trunks be removed from
illegal squatters land. During the discussion the director's wife took
photographs of the delegation and was subsequently ordered to hand over the
camera or have it destroyed. The delegation departed four hours later after the
arrival of the DA, Asst DA, Chief Inspector of Chipinge ZRP and CID personnel.
The film was stripped from the camera and handed to the police. Despite
Watershed Estate being a Zimbabwe Investment Centre development project, two
farms have been gazetted for compulsory acquisition, and the third extensively
pegged by Agritex. The British High Commission and US Embassy were notified.
Following this incident the governor has called for a meeting with the Chipinge
farmers for the morning of the 01-10-01. On Glenree Estate three cattle were
stolen and slaughtered, this was reported to ZRP. The thieves have so much meat
now that they give it out on credit. An 80yr old former resident of Chipinge,
with his sister, was on his way to visit a neighbour and had an accident and
knocked over a woman. He took her to hospital and reported it to ZRP and took
them out to the scene of the accident, he has been advised that he will be
prosecuted. On Lettiesville whose farm is not listed but is pegged, the
squatters are starting to build. A knapsack sprayer was stolen from a worker
while he was spraying and 20ha of two year old coffee has been uprooted.
Nyanga - Four members of Clairemont were held hostage from Friday to
Saturday morning when they were released, everything is now back to
Masvingo East and Central Area
On Dromore Farm the owner was
driving along Chidza farm road when two illegal occupiers who reside in a
makeshift hut along the road threw a rock at his vehicle. The back window was
shattered. Reported to Police who saw evidence of rock in the back of the
vehicle. No arrests yet made. Beauly Farm Impala and warthogs are being poached.
Owner has seen evidence of bags and trays of meat drying. National Parks have
been informed and poachers have since run away. 9 lengths of two inch piping, a
foot valve, three-inch cylinder head and a base plate has been stolen from the
Chiredzi At Eureka Ranch 200 head of communal cattle have been
moved onto this property.On Buffalo Range the owner is working with owner from
Eaglemont Ranch to try and curb the poaching operations. Fire has been reported
over the weekend and more new invasions reported. All fencing along the communal
boundaries and along up to the main tar road is being cut for accessibility. As
a result cattle will be wandering onto the main roads and further theft of
fencing will take place. On Kwaingwe Ranch a Government vehicle was spotted
driving all over the property avoiding any form of contact with the owner.
Finally the owner confronted him and was given the “silent” treatment. Within
the vehicle were members from the Ministry of Lands and Agriculture who said
that they were checking on Phase Two of the resettlement programme. On
Faversham Ranch the assistant DA from Zaka has pegged plots in the owners cane,
banana and citrus plantations. Local war veterans and local businessmen visited
to examine the plots that had been pegged and to give their approval. Sebanani
Ranch had one steer reported to have been killed by illegal squatters.
Rakatchya Ranch reported a fire over the weekend.
General Ex local MP
Maleleke has been caught poaching game and selling it in Chiredzi and moving it
to Bikita. He is said to have a hunter shooting the game for him and then avoids
the veterinary roadblocks by storing it in Bikita.
Situation remains the same, poaching continues unabated.
General Comments. There is yet further escalation in poaching, wire
theft, cutting, burning and building. A disturbing trend may be emerging with
respect to theft and / or slaughter of cattle. Oerwoud, Merrivale, Rutenga and a
tenant on Nuanetsi Ranch have all reported cattle, from claves to bulls
slaughtered or missing without trace. The Mwenezi Police have rolled their last
remaining Landrover Defender. Due to the deficiencies in manpower, transport,
tents and water containers the good intentions of the DVO Mwenezi are not
translating into the requisite controls on illegal cattle movements, which
continue unabated. He needs and deserves support from his superiors. The Beit
Bridge illegal movements are still being driven by that DA and PVO Mat.
Swanscoe Ranch - Many of those “allocated” land on this property
are Policemen stationed in Beitbridge. The other night there was an attempt to
steal equipment from the borehole head, the attempt was interrupted and those
perpetrating the crime absconded in a Police Land Rover. The incident was
reported to the Beit Bridge Police and was attended to the next day by the
Policeman involved, now in uniform, in the same Land Rover. The Chief Valuator
from Gwanda, escorted by Beit Bridge Police, occupying area near commercial
brickyard and helping themselves to bricks. Lot 21A Pegging and “evaluation” by
the DDF commenced on the 27th September. Illegal movement of cattle from
Chikombedzi (Red Zone) through MARIKANGO, ASVELDT, LOT 21A, and NUANETSI to
FLORA has been witnessed. Umfula Ranch had corrugated iron roof sheets stolen
for use by illegal occupiers on the property. 2 farm worker houses occupied by
illegal squatters – one is being used as a trading store. Quagga Pan B had
corrugated iron roof sheeting stolen by squatters, and gate diagonals stolen for
Gutu / Chatsworth Area
Ripley Farm's owner has been told
that the DDF will be ploughing for commercial farming on this
Two years of opposing Mugabe
Thousands of people have gathered in a stadium in Zimbabwe's second-largest
city, Bulawayo, to mark the second anniversary of the main opposition party
Movement for Democratic Change.
The leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, told the cheering crowds that 300,000 people
have lost their jobs over the past two years and accused President Robert Mugabe
of plunging the country into economic and social chaos.
Mr Tsvangirai also accused the government of plotting to split his party.
He said such plots would not succeed and that he would easily win the
forthcoming presidential elections next year.
Correspondents say Mr Tsvangirai , a former union leader, has emerged as the
most viable challenger to Mr Mugabe, who has run Zimbabw since independence more
than 20 years ago.
Sabotaging Trade: Mugabe
BANGKOK Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe said on
Tuesday while on a visit to Thailand that former colonial ruler Britain was
trying to sabotage his country's foreign trade relations.
"We have a conflict situation at the moment because of our former colonial
power Britain," Mugabe told representatives of Thailand's Board of Trade.
He said Britain was using the issue of land reform to put pressure on
Zimbabwe's trade partners.
"If they (Britain) come to you they will...induce you not to go into any
relations with us," he said.
"They (Britain) have even gone to the extent of going to Arab
countries...where we import oil, to persuade them not to sell to Zimbabwe."
Mugabe was speaking during an impromptu visit to Thailand after the
cancellation of a commonwealth meeting of heads of states in Australia, where he
had been expected to come under pressure to clamp down on illegal farm
The country, already facing its worst economic crisis since independence in
1980, has been isolated by the international community over Mugabe's endorsement
of the invasion of more than 1,000 white owned farms since February 2000.
At the beginning of last month, Mugabe supported a Nigerian-brokered
agreement to end the land seizures in exchange for funds from Britain to
implement a fair land reform program, Reuters reported.
But recent media reports have said pro-government militants were still trying
to seize property illegally.
Mugabe, who has ruled the southern African country for 21 years, said the
agreement reached in the Nigerian capital Abuja, which would see Britain give
250 million pounds to Zimbabwe, could pave the way for a more stable economy.
"We have agreed in Abuja on Britain not opposing the land question," he said.
"We are working on that and it will improve the situation and will improve
our government's ability to meet our import demands and therefore to lessen the
pressure," he said. "Now, we have an artificial situation."
|Court backs Mugabe's seizure of white land|
|FROM JAN RAATH IN HARARE|
|ZIMBABWE’s new Supreme Court made its first significant
judgment yesterday when it backed the Government’s seizures of white-owned land.
Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku said that the court, which is dominated by
recent appointees of President Mugabe, had overturned a ruling by the court of
his predecessor, the former Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay. That court had ordered
that all steps to seize land be suspended until the Government had restored the
rule of law on the country’s embattled farms.
For the first time since the takeover of white-owned farms began in February
last year, the Government has secured a measure of legality for its violent
Diplomats said that Mr Mugabe would present the judgment to the international
community as proof of its adherence to the rule of law and to the agreement
drawn up by Commonwealth foreign ministers in Abuja, Nigeria, last month to end
the state-driven violence.
The ruling follows Mr Chidyausiku’s appointment to replace Mr Gubbay, who
reluctantly resigned in March after being threatened with violence by supporters
of Mr Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) party. Mr Mugabe added three new judges, prompting
accusations that he was “packing the court” to ensure that its decisions would
be favourable to his regime.
“It’s a fair inference that this court doesn’t acknowledge that there is a
breakdown in the rule of law,” Adrian de Bourbon, the advocate who represented
the Commercial Farmers’ Union, said. “The repercussions go beyond this case. I
don’t believe we have an independent judiciary any longer.”
The new court’s decision was announced two working days after the final
papers were submitted. “It leaves one with the suspicion that the argument
wasn’t considered,” Mr de Bourbon said. Mr Chidyausiku dismissed an application
by Mr de Bourbon yesterday for a week’s delay for him to draw up a challenge. He
said that the court would rule later on a Government application for a
declaration that it had established law and order on commercial farms and that
its so-called fast-track land acquisition programme was legal.
The court also directed the Administrative Court, which hears objections from
farmers against acquisition of their farms, to start hearing cases, following a
nine-month suspension ordered by Mr Gubbay’s court.
David Coltart, legal director of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change, said: “We now have to assume that this is a politically biased judiciary
and we cannot rely on the Constitution any more. However, the rest of the world
is not going to believe that the land-reform programme is being done lawfully
simply because a patently biased judiciary has ruled in favour of its
'Bring Laws in Line With Our Charter'
October 2, 2001
to the web October 2, 2001
SOUTH Africa has been urged to have laws in line with the
African Charter adopted by many African states two decades ago.
This is the view of Mr Andrew Chigovera, a commissioner of
the African Commission on the African Charter for Human and People's Rights, who
concluded his five-day tour of SA at the weekend.
Chigovera, who is from Zimbabwe, was in the country to find
out whether the African Charter was observed, the African courts ghave become
ratified, xenophobia was eradicated and minority inequalities were
He specially discovered that there was xenophobia,
overcrowded prisons and a communication breakdown between the South African
Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) and some non-government organisations.
"I engaged the Government offices on xenophobia,
overcrowding in prisons and the ratification of protocol of African courts,
among other issues. It is the obligation of the state to bring its laws in line
with the African charter," the commissioner said.
All members of the Organisation of African Unity (now the
African Union), to which South Africa belongs, have committed themselves to
upholding the charter by making legislation that would be in concert with the
charter of 29 articles.
In essence the charter echoes the legal principles laid down
in, say, the South African constitution. These include personal freedoms,
political participation, medical care and equality before the law for all.
But Chigovera said that there was not enough incorporation
of positive aspects of law into the established legal system. "Yet there are
customary aspects that would be unthinkable to apply in modern societies."
He added that the interpretation of jurisprudence did not
apply the charter in courts. "I am fully satisfied with my mission. It was
fruitful because I had frank discussions with several Government
The commissioner met Dr Barney Pityana, chairman of the
South African Human Rights Commission, and later senior officials of the South
African Police Service, Correctional Services, Justice Ministry and judges of
the Constitutional Court.
Zimbabwe court allows seizures of white farmland
By Angus Shaw in Harare
03 October 2001
Four judges recently appointed to Zimbabwe's highest court issued an order
yesterday allowing the government to proceed with the seizure of white-owned
The interim order came two working days after the conclusion of the court
hearing, a record in a country where Supreme Court rulings routinely take at
least six weeks.
Adrian de Bourbon, a lawyer for the Commercial Farmers Union, which
represents white farmers, said: "I believe we no longer have an independent
Mr de Bourbon said he submitted his last written argument to the court on
Friday and was told on Monday that an order would be issued. "It leaves one with
the suspicion that argument was not even considered," he said.
At a brief hearing yesterday, Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku said four of
the five judges that heard the case agreed to an interim ruling permitting the
government to call hearings of the administrative court to confirm farm
confiscations under its "fast-track'' land seizure laws.
Last December, five other Supreme Court judges put those hearings on hold
after ruling that the land seizures breached the government's own land
acquisition laws. That ruling also ordered the government to restore law and
order in farming districts and to submit a lawful land reform programme to the
court by 1 July.
Ruling-party militants have occupied more than 1,700 white-owned farms across
the country since March last year. The government has earmarked 4,500
white-owned farms to be seized and redistributed to blacks.
Last month, the government asked the Supreme Court under Mr Justice
Chidyausiku – who was sworn in as Chief Justice on 20 August – to strike down
the December ruling. The interim order means the government can legally confirm
land confiscations at the administrative court and then give landowners a 90-day
deadline to leave their properties.
About 800 confirmation hearings were put on hold by the Supreme Court's
December order. The former chief justice, Anthony Gubbay, was forced to take
early retirement after the December land ruling, and the government expanded the
Supreme Court bench from five to eight judges in an apparent attempt to pack the
court in the state's favour.
Mr Justice Chidyausiku chose the three newly appointed judges – seen as
favourable to the government – to hear the case alongside him and Ahmed Ebrahim,
one of the five other judges who ruled against the government in December.
The Chief Justice normally picks a bench of three to five justices to hear
any one case.
Yesterday's ruling said the interim order did not "prejudge" other issues
raised in the case and a main ruling would be issued later.
Mr de Bourbon said he tried to seek an adjournment to consider challenging
the interim order but was overruled without being allowed to argue any points.
"In our view, you cannot give an interim order of this nature without forming a
view on the main issues including the rule of law'' in farming districts, he
said. "All the white farmers want is for matters to be done in terms of the
"Today's ruling infers the court does not acknowledge there is a breakdown in
the rule of law,'' as the previous bench had, Mr de Bourbon said. (AP)
MDC calls for
fair poll in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe's opposition urged the Commonwealth yesterday to ensure presidential
elections in the strife-torn country are fair and free of violence.
Two members of the Movement for Democratic Change, international affairs
secretary Sekai Holland and parliamentarian Roy Bennet, were in Brisbane to
lobby for support at the Commonwealth heads of government meeting, which was
scheduled to start this week.
Bennet said the visit to Australia had to go ahead despite last week's
decision to postpone the meeting. "The crisis in Zimbabwe is too critical to
wait for it to be rescheduled next year."
He warned that the situation had not changed despite Mugabe agreeing at talks
in Nigeria last month to end the occupation of white farms and restore the rule
of law to land reform. He said it was crucial to gain Commonwealth support for a
team to monitor Zimbabwe's presidential poll, due early next year. Sapa-AFP.
Harare court reverses farms
By Nicol Degli Innocenti in
Published: October 2 2001 17:48 | Last Updated: October 2 2001
Zimbabwe's Supreme Court reversed all previous rulings on Tuesday to allow
the government to proceed with its fast-track land reform programme. The
decision is seen as a victory for Robert Mugabe, the president, in his attempt
to consolidate his grip on power before next year's presidential election.
In an interim order, the court said the administrative courts could resume
processing the government's requests to redistribute white-owned farms to
landless blacks. In November and December last year the Supreme Court had
declared the government's land programme unconstitutional and had ordered police
to evict so-called war veterans and squatters from white-owned farms.
Tuesday's ruling was made after the government asked the Supreme Court to
declare the land reform programme legal.
The Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), which represents most of the country's
4,500 white farmers, had argued that the previous rulings should not be subject
"I believe we no longer have an independent judiciary," Adrian de Bourbon,
attorney for the CFU said on Tuesday. It is "a fair inference that the court
does not recognise that there is a breakdown of law and order." He said he would
meet with the Law Society of Zimbabwe to express his disquiet.
Anthony Gubbay, the well-respected chief justice, was forced to take early
retirement after being threatened by pro-government militants. Mr Mugabe
replaced him with Godfrey Chidyausiku, a government supporter who had criticised
Mr Gubbay's rulings against land invasions.
The new chief justice then proceeded to expand the court from five to eight
judges and named two other Mugabe supporters to the five-member panel that was
hearing the land case. On Tuesday four out of five judges ruled in the
The government can now proceed with its "legal" land policies while insisting
it is complying with the terms of the Abuja agreement. Last month in Nigeria
Britain, the former colonial power, agreed to fund land reform while Zimbabwe
committed itself to implementing a lawful programme of land reform.
The CFU maintains that, despite the Abuja agreement, farm invasions, theft
and violence have continued unpunished. It says that since the deal was drawn up
20 new farms have been occupied and hundreds of farm workers evicted or beaten.
Meanwhile, Mr Mugabe on Tuesday accused Britain of attempting to sabotage
Zimbabwe's foreign trade relations. "We have a conflict situation at the moment
because of our former colonial power Britain," he said in Bangkok.
"If they (the British) come to you they will induce you not to go into any
relations with us," he told representatives of Thailand's Board of trade. "They
have even gone to the extent of going to Arab countries where we import oil, to
persuade them not to sell to Zimbabwe."