The month of September saw a new wave of farm invasions in Manicaland where 4 cases were reported. These invasions followed the signing into law of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, which among other things, strips away the right of appeal to the courts by aggrieved parties in cases where their land has been acquired by the state. The only appeal they are allowed is for compensation for the improvements on the land.
The Forum notes with concern that this clause in the Constitutional Amendment Act No 17 violates Zimbabwe’s international obligations, more particularly Article 7 (1) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which states that “every individual shall have the right to have his cause heard”. This right includes “the right to appeal to competent national organs against acts violating his fundamental rights as recognized and guaranteed by conventions, laws, regulations and customs in force.”1 The Forum urges the Government to respect and adhere to the international instruments to which it is a party.
The invasions also came in the wake of the precent statements made by State Security and Land Reform Minister, Didymus Mutasa who reportedly described white farmers as “dirt” which needed to be cleansed while speaking at a land audit meeting in Masvingo. These are irresponsible statements from a public official, which must not be condoned.