By Alex Bell
There has been an angry reaction to news that a Zimbabwean land invader who has successfully led the prosecution of a white farmer in Chegutu is now applying for permanent residency in Canada.
ZANU PF official Timothy Mudavanhu is believed to have already filed his application. His daughter and her family are Canadian residents.
Since 2001 Mudavanhu has spearheaded an intensive campaign to evict the South African born Dirk Visagie from his Wantage farm in Chegutu. This is despite being given a different piece of land as part of the land grab campaign.
The Visagie’s meanwhile had bought the property from a government parastatal and received a ‘Certificate of no interest’ from the Ministry of Lands.
But Mudavanhu insisted the Visagie property was the one he wanted and he soon initiated a campaign of harassment and intimidation that included moving hired thugs onto the property, breaking into the Visagie family home and lighting raging veld fires.
The family has also faced off physical violence, often with no assistance from the police, who repeatedly insisted the matter was a ‘political’ one.
In January 2011 Visagie was criminally charged for a second time in four years for illegally occupying State land “without authority”. This has now resulted in a judgement by a Chegutu magistrate who passed a guilty sentence against Visagie last week.
John Worsley-Worswick from Justice for Agriculture (JAG) told SW Radio Africa on Monday that the case is “a further indication of the breakdown of the rule of law in Zimbabwe.”
“This is again the total disregard of international protocols, of international laws,” Worsley-Worswick said, referring to the fact that Visagie is meant to be protected by a bilateral investment agreement (BIPPA) between South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Visagie meanwhile was also meant to be protected by a landmark ruling in the regional human rights Tribunal in 2008. The SADC court ruled that the land grab campaign was unlawful and ordered the then ZANU PF government to protect the remaining farmers.
This never happened and instead the court was suspended by SADC leaders almost two years ago, in what was widely regarded as a clear sign of loyalty to Robert Mugabe. The court looks set to never again possess the same human rights mandate, after a weekend Summit of SADC leaders made steps to hobble to court’s work.
Worsley-Worswick meanwhile called on the Canadian authorities to issue a strong statement against Mudavanhu’s attempts to get a permit to remain in that country. “We are absolutely shocked to hear he is trying to get into Canada and we hope the authorities have a strong statement about this,” Worsley-Worswick said. SW Radio Africa