Tsvangirai Orders Arrest of Farm Invaders

HARARE – Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai says he has ordered police to arrest people behind the latest round of farm invasions, which have claimed more than 100 white owned farms.

PM Morgan TsvangiraiAddressing a stakeholders conference in Harare on Friday, Tsvangirai said there could be no growth without rule of law.

He said the new government was aware that most of the on-going disruptions of agricultural production, which he said were being done in the name of the land reform process, were actually acts of theft using fraudulent offer letters.

"Those continuing to undertake these activities will be arrested and face justice in the courts," said Tsvangirai.

"I have tasked the Ministers of Home Affairs to ensure that all crimes are acted upon and the perpetrators arrested and charged. For too long a culture of entitlement and impunity has stained our society but after the signing of the GPA, no crime will go unpunished," he said.

Fresh farm invasions started after the formation of the inclusive government between ZANU PF and the two Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formations.

Commercial farmers organisations say suspected state security agents and ZANU PF functionaries have raided 100 of the 300 remaining white owned farmers.

There is concern in the new government that hardliners in ZANU PF are behind the latest land invasions to sabotage the all-inclusive government.

The Commercial Farmers Union of Zimbabwe (CFU) this week wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai asking him to cleary state his position on the continuing violation of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal Judgement of November 2008.

The CFU warned that time was running out for the commercial agriculture sector with the continuing farm evictions.

"So far there has been no open policy decision of support from the Prime Minister’s office regarding the SADC Tribunal Judgement of the 28 November 2008. As the first applicants in that case could you make clear what the position is on that? We are part of SADC and we have signed the SADC protocol establishing the Tribunal, but we are not yet following what this Human Rights Court and the highest court in SADC says regarding property rights," said CFU.

The SADC Tribunal ruled that the Government of Zimbabwe was in breach of article 4 (c), which imposes an obligation on member states to ensure that their laws conform to democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

The Tribunal found that the Government of Zimbabwe had breached article 6 of the treaty, which concerns non-discrimination on racial grounds. It also found that Amendment No. 17 to the Constitution of Zimbabwe, ousting the jurisdiction of Zimbabwean courts from considering any challenge to the arbitrary taking of farms, was in breach of the treaty.

This was after Mike Campbell, a Zimbabwean commercial farmer, filed an application with the SADC Tribunal in Windhoek on October 11, 2007 challenging the acquisition of his Mount Carmel farm in Chegutu by the Government of Zimbabwe. The Tribunal has jurisdiction to hear disputes concerning "human rights, democracy and the rule of law," which are binding principles for members of the SADC.