The month of September began with Minister of Justice Patrick Chinamasa (Zanu PF) announcing that Zimbabwe was withdrawing from the SADC Tribunal, and declaring that the Zimbabwe Government would not be bound by decisions made there. Chinamasa's argument justifying his decision has been widely challenged in a range of legal opinions from credible organisations. It is by now widely known that the SADC Tribunal ruled in favour of 79 white commercial farmers, finding that the government's seizure of their farms was racist, unlawful and violated their human rights. Chinamasa's decision to ignore the Tribunal signals contempt for the region's decisions, and indicates that the Zanu PF elements within the inclusive government have no intention of complying with legal and human rights standards set by our African peers.
Unsurprisingly, September saw an increase in land and farming related violations of the GPA, suggesting that those responsible for violent and unlawful behaviour were emboldened by the signal that they would not be held accountable for their crimes in either a local or a regional court. A report released in September illustrated the scale of human devastation caused by the farm invasions: approximately 66,000 farm workers have been left homeless in the wake of farm invasions since February 2009. All too often, it is senior Zanu PF loyalists associated with the crimes, enjoying the protection of people like the Minister of Justice, Patrick Chinamasa, and Attorney General Johannes Tomana.
Notable farming incidents in September alone include the following:
- Ben Freeth, the farmer who initiated the SADC Tribunal case found himself at the centre of a contrived 'arms-cache' plot - after two mysterious explosions were heard on his farm at the start of the month. Nathan Shamuyarira is the Zanu PF heavyweight behind a long campaign of intimidation against the Freeth family.
- Okay Mabhena, a New York-based Zimbabwean employee of the United Nations, broke into the farmhouse of Xanthippe Farm accompanied by his family. The farm is owned by the Jansen family. The Mabhenas carried out their crime in the presence of a member of the police and a government Lands Officer.
- The Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank, Mr Mashwiringwani, denied Louis Fick access to 4,000 pigs on Fick's Friedewil Farm. Mr Mashwiringani's tactics were a calculated attempt to use animal cruelty to force the farmer to give up more livestock pens. Farm employees working on Friedewil Farm were also beaten by thugs loyal to the Deputy Governor
- Murray Potts was attacked in his mother's farmyard by thirteen thugs. He was beaten twenty-eight times with sticks, resulting in head and arm injuries, and on-going kidney problems. (The attack was filmed and is available to watch via YouTube at this link).
- Brigadier General Justin Itayi Mujaji ignored a court order in September to allow Headlands farmer Charles Lock access to his tobacco and maize crop valued at approximately USD 700,000. The Brigadier apparently threatened to gun Mr Lock down if he entered the farm, and soldiers barred access to the farm in full view of the police.
- Robert Anthony McKersie made his 78th court appearance, on the same charge, in September: "I have been acquitted three times, withdrawn before plea twice, withdrawn before appeal once and I've had a High Court order. Six acquittals altogether and I have been in court for the same issue"