Litigation against Zanu PF: Let the floodgates be opened
By Ben Semwayo
Once upon a time all roads led to South Africa, if you were on Zanu PF’s wanted list or if you were simply fleeing the unbearable hardships of life caused by Zanu PF’s ineptitude. All roads still lead to South Africa, but it is now for a completely different reason.
All roads lead to South Africa if you are seeking justice against Zanu PF, an untouchable serial offender spared condemnation by Zimbabwe’s skewed judicial system.
How can it be expected to deliver fair judgments when it is staffed by die-hard Zanu PF devotees who have been drilled to take sides with the unpopular party at all costs, whatever the evidence brought before them?
In the run-up to the last parliamentary elections there was a flurry of activity in the courts as the opposition resorted to filing lawsuits in a futile attempt to level the playing field.
Although their cases were based on clear, credible evidence that was unfolding every day before our eyes, there was no joy for the opposition. They lost every single case. The legal duels are still continuing in the courts and, needless to say, Zanu PF is winning them all.
People who have a bone to chew with Zanu PF have now found a new court to take their cases to, a court that decides cases without fear or favour – the Constitutional Court of South Africa.
These ingenious people have enjoyed sweet success after ditching the Zimbabwean courts and heading south in their quest for justice. Why should you waste your time and money seeking justice with a court you know very well to be your opponent’s personal property? What chances of a fair hearing do you stand?
The petitioners have also found a new formidable ally in South Africa in the form of AfriForum, a body that is on a mission to fight for the rights of downtrodden people not only in South Africa, but in Africa as a whole.
AfriForum is credited with winning cases against the Zanu PF regime for both Zimbabwean white commercial farmers and MDC victims of abuse, torture and murder in the run-up to the 2008 general elections in Zimbabwe.
These are cases that had been thrown out of the Zimbabwean courts and it is not surprising to see why.
The Zimbabwean courts are programmed to invariably award victory to the infamous regime as they are managed by Mugabe’s boot-lickers who are recompensed with all sorts of material rewards for their dishonorable deeds.
In Zimbabwe there are many, many people against whom atrocities were perpetrated by Zanu PF since it came into power in 1980.
Whether it is the Gukurahundi victims or victims of the Murambatsvina outrage or other culpable crimes committed by Zanu PF, supported by unequivocal evidence, there are numerous cases that warrant legal action in fair courts, cases that people are reluctant to bring before the Zimbabwean courts for fear that they will just crumble in the country’s massively partisan judicial system.
They can even be chastised for daring to stand up to Zanu PF and humiliating it by bringing into the public domain the very transgressions the party is battling to keep the lid on.
Cases such as the Chiadzwa massacre, abused WOZA members, rape perpetrated by the armed forces and ZanuPF militias at the behest of the regime’s leaders, and abuses against journalists, human rights activists and teachers, all need to be brought before the courts and let the law take its course.
Unfortunately people have given up hope of seeing any redress, demoralized with nowhere to go for justice, and have decided to live with their unabated grief.
It is for such people that courts outside the national borders of Zimbabwe provide an answer. At the very least you can rest assured that the verdict of guilty will be given and the defendants will have their freedoms of movement severely curtailed as they will be too scared to travel to the country in which the court is based, for fear of being thrust into jail.
It will be like living under self-imposed sanctions which, as we know, Zanu PF leaders detest and will avoid like the plague.
More importantly, the victory will have the effect of exposing the malevolent nature of the regime to the outside world, apart from forming the basis for further prosecutions. It is not impossible that the guilty will eventually be convicted and forced to serve the necessary penal sentences.
The Zimbabwean courts have political cases that are still pending, especially those involving the ‘losing’ MDC parliamentary hopefuls. Those that have been heard so far have failed to see the light of day as they were promptly thrown out, based on solid, irrefutable evidence though they were.
It is anybody’s guess that the outstanding cases will meet the same fate, for which reason it beggars the question, why are the plaintiffs still wasting their time and money on something that is so plain to see? Is it daftness that makes the MDC representatives return to the same courts despite their consistent losses?
We even hear that one MDC parliamentary election contestant who had his case thrown out, Mr. Jameson Timba, has even filed an appeal challenging the ruling against him.
You did not lose the case because of lack of evidence or the incompetency of your solicitor, Mr. Timba: it was because the court you approached is simply not programmed to allow you to win. If you want to win simply head south.
Using Zimbabwean courts for human rights and political cases is counter-productive as it indicates some kind of confidence in the judicial system and effectively endorses it as fair, when it is common knowledge that that cannot be further from the truth.
On the other hand seeking justice in external courts where possible acts as a practical vote of no confidence in the national courts and if people shun them en-masse over time they will be exposed for the massive scandal that they are.
What the ‘losing’ MDC candidates need to seriously consider doing is taking their party’s famous election dossier and present it to South Africa’s Constitutional Court, or another international court. They may or may not choose to use the services of AfriForum.
One thing for certain is that AfriForum will welcome them with open arms, and a change that will affect every Zimbabwean will be effected. They can pool together their dwindling financial resources, of which they must have little as they did not make it into the lucrative positions they were angling for, and file a single application.
The court will almost certainly rule in their favour, and although we know that Zanu PF will fume, rant, and irrelevantly cite sovereignty, the ruling will at least bolster the MDC’s charge that the election was rigged, while leaving a massive dent in Zanu PF’s integrity.
That will give a strong cue to the international community as to how it should deal with the illegitimate government of Zimbabwe. The government will be isolated and pressure for new credible elections will be brought to bear. Before we know it Zimbabwe can be on the way to the proper elections long before the expiration of the current bogus parliament.
This course of action may seem extreme or even bizarre, but what do you do when every normal thing you do to get justice is brutally and unlawfully thwarted? Desperate situations call for drastic measures. It is in very few situations that the end justifies the means: this is one of them.