Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

MDC condemns detention of Bots rangers

The MDC condemns in the strongest terms the manner in which the law enforcement authorities handled the issue of the two Batswana rangers who were arrested on 19 January 2010 allegedly for unlawful possession of weapons and unlawful entry into Zimbabwe, and only released on 8 February 2010 after payment of fines for violating immigration laws.

Any person, whether Zimbabwean or foreign, has the right, even under the present defective Constitution, to the protection of the law. This right includes the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, and the right to trial within a reasonable time.

It is a travesty of justice for the highest law enforcement officials to try and convict the Batswana rangers in the media while the court is still to dispose of the matter.

Government ministers act in contempt of court when they pronounce judgment to the press on matters that are before the courts. Such statements are calculated to pre-empt and therefore improperly influence the courts; and amount to the flagrant interference by the Executive organ of the State into the purview of the Judiciary.

The MDC deplores such conduct as it undermines the rule of law. The motives for such conduct are all the more questionable where they directly refer to previous altercations between the Botswana and Zimbabwe law enforcement authorities. The delay of nearly a month in resolving an issue that appears straightforward  enough and needful of tact, coupled with the substandard and deplorable conditions the Batswana rangers faced in Zimbabwean police and remand facilities invite the suspicion of the abuse of the legal process.

The law and its system of administration should not ever be used to settle scores whether real or perceived. To do so would be to subvert the rule of law and indeed to undermine the confidence of the local and regional public in the justice delivery system of Zimbabwe.

The MDC demands that the inclusive government authorities abide by and enforce the rule of law as required by article 11 of the global political agreement. The MDC also expects the government to ensure that the rights of accused persons are not violated by abuse of the legal process and unjustifiable delays in the due process of law.

The MDC also demands the respect by the Executive, of the independence of the Judiciary, which alongside the right to the protection of the law, should be effectively guaranteed in the new Constitution.

Hon. Jessie Majome

Deputy Secretary for Legal and Parliamentary Affairs