I don't regret land rulings: Chidyausiku

HARARE - Outgoing Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku has said he does not regret land judgments he handed down that saw several white commercial farmers losing their properties under the government’s often-violent land grab programme.

Speaking at the official opening of the 2017 legal year on Monday, Chidyausiku said given another opportunity, he would hand down the same judgments he handed 16 years ago, pertaining to the land issue.

“The rulings in the Supreme Court on the land cases led to perceptions at home and abroad that the judiciary in Zimbabwe was not independent.

“This became apparent at regional level as I met with colleagues from the region. I stood firm because I believed in the correctness of our decision at law. My stance on constitutionalism then and today as I leave the bench has not changed. Given the situation, I would today make the same decision that I made in 2001 on the land issue because I believe they are correct at law,” Chidyausiku said.

The land issue became a popular topic in Zimbabwe at the turn of the millennium, after the government embarked on a fast track land reform programme.

Zimbabwe was under the spotlight following the manner in which the properties were grabbed and how whites were brutally attacked during the farm invasions, resulting in protracted legal battles that even spilled into regional courts.

The courts in Zimbabwe were accused of sidelining the whites, but Chidyausiku said, he upheld the rule of law and acted independently.

“I leave office as a happy man and a satisfied chief justice because, on my part, I did the best to protect the Constitution and the laws of Zimbabwe. History will in due course judge my efforts.

“While I know that it will be fair in its judgment, I hope that it will equally be kind, as I assumed the position of chief justice during turbulent times after the people of Zimbabwe had decided to take back their land.

“This split the judiciary into two. One school of thought maintained it was unlawful to repossess the land.

“Another school of thought, to which I belonged, was of the view that whether the land should be repossessed or not was a political issue and had nothing to do with the judiciary.

“Whether the land was repossessed and redistributed in accordance with the legal framework created for that purpose, was the judicial issue,” he said.

In 2008 Southern African Development Community’s (Sadc) regional court, the Sadc Tribunal, ruled in favour of white farmers and ordered that they be compensated, leading to Zimbabwe losing some of its property in South Africa.

Chidyausiku said that he held the government to account and ensured that the repossession and redistribution was in accordance with the law.

“It was my role as chief justice to lead in the crafting of a solution that would uphold the independence of the judiciary, restore faith in the rule of law as a guiding tenet of the State, and yet give expression to the aspirations of the people to fulfil one of the main reasons why they had waged the war of liberation.

“I look back with some degree of satisfaction that the solution that we offered collectively as a judiciary was both a statement of our independence to form our own opinions on how the law should be interpreted to serve the interests of the people it seeks to govern and at the same time was reaffirmation that Zimbabwe is a nation where the rule of law prevails.

“Our solution was based on established legal principles and did not seek to distort any established legal tenets,” he said.

Comments (9)

OK, but what do you say about failing to conclude an MDC-T 2002 election petition for a period of 14 years. You still have no regrets, I suppose.

Mutemo Pisa - 18 January 2017

What else can we expect from this zanunised judge?You were doing all that in the name on zanu pf not the law of the land.And there is no way in hell you can regret your skewed political judgements that made you a multiple farm owner and filthy rich in the process.Even if you ask the this old dictator posing as the zimbabwean president he will tell you that he doesn't have any regrets in all his time as the zimbabwean dictator.

Janana wa Bikaz - 18 January 2017

Clever boy !!

sammwa - 18 January 2017

Look what that land reform led to. You're pathetic!

Young Zimbo - 18 January 2017

you r just a lap dog, you are not an academic,you have blindly licked the rrrse of zanu and Bob and not enacted a single legal thing

mark - 19 January 2017

powerful holy elephant blood to make you rich and get big tenders so call now +27733587735

Aladdin - 19 January 2017

I applaud you for retiring if indeed you are i will remember you for the damage you did to our beloved country.

Sinyo - 19 January 2017

Never mind Chidyausiku, he is a beneficiary and therefore an interested party .He suffers from conflict of interest as well as moments of weakness!

Jonso - 19 January 2017

Its not "the people of Zimbabwe" who took back their land...its Zanu PF supporters and not all of them know what farming is all about, except to just say, "my farm this, my farm that.."

Sagitarr - 20 January 2017

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