Legal plunder crumbles Zimbabwean businesses

29th July 2011

By Rejoice Ngwenya, Harare

For the second time in my life since 2000, I am about to experience another nasty bout of State-sponsored private property plunder under some nefarious law purportedly meant to ‘empower’ me – the black Zimbabwean. It comes with devastating implications to the future of my children – catastrophic unemployment.

Zimbabwe’s indigenisation law is being brandished at mining companies as an excuse for expropriating their property. Cast a critical glance at the fate that has recently befallen commercial farmers Mike Van Royen and Koos Smit, real estate investors Khalil Gaibie and the Di Palma family then you will appreciate how we are a nation at war with ourselves. I want to ask myself: what kind of a country is Zimbabwe where even the Constitution cannot protect individual right to own legitimate property? What on earth have we done wrong to deserve such a vicious, unforgiving and savage government in a century where a habited space ship is a mere 200 kilometres above us?

Completely oblivious of the natural laws of justice, drunken by forces of vindictive partisan idiocy, Indigenisation, Youth Development and Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere , himself a beneficiary of farm invasions, pontificates: “By the end of September, any mining company that doesn’t comply with the law, we’ll kick them out. We’ll ask them to hand over their assets to government.” I wish I could approach the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe and ask why the Constitution is failing to protect business from this Kamikaze crusade. Companies in Zimbabwe have a legal persona. Like every other Zimbabwean citizen who is [supposed to be] protected by the law, no one – including a government minister – must have an excuse of walking into a private company and violating its rights.

The basis of my argument is simple. Whenever a resident of this country or for that matter a citizen, has legal right over a property – through a lease agreement, title deed, trade mark, patent or share certificate, the Constitution must protect them. There is no law, regulation, statutory instrument, decree or pronouncement violating this constitutional right that must be accorded recognition. In other words, could there be a ‘common good’ law that can allow homeless vagrants or squatters to go and ‘occupy’ or ‘acquire’ Saviour Kasukuwere’s Borrowdale house on the basis of ‘a right to shelter’? According to the ‘indigenisation’ law – yes! My point: whenever a law violates my right to own property, such a law is bad and unconstitutional – even if it is meant for ‘common good’.

Tinyiko Sam Malulele, M & G blogger asks a very pertinent question: “What should we do with leaders who work for their stomachs and inspire disunity?” And at one time, we understand Professor Jonathan Moyo did explain how such leaders behave. Based on his experience “… the 2000 land reform programme was itself a hasty, brutal and chaotic response to serious national problems that were already present.” He argued that this “was not a sustainable policy action … [but a] brutal and chaotic response [was] more about Mugabe’s political survival than about redressing historical injustice.”

There is more recent evidence why the Constitutional Court needs to revoke Kasukuwere’s law of racial hatred. Afaras Gwaradzimba and Patrick Chinamasa are at the centre of what analysts term ‘the plunder of Shabani Mashaba Mines’. Mines and Energy Portfolio Committee is reported to have proclaimed: “The Anti-Corruption Commission and police should be directed by appropriate authorities to investigate allegations of abuse of office, theft of mining material, vehicles, building material, mining equipment, mining claims, unauthorised sale of assets and mismanagement of resources at the two mines and associated SMMH companies.” This is not the first time these hastily assembled laws have caused chaos. There is record that Kondozi Farm – a highly sophisticated agro-industry entity now occupied by Christopher Mushowe – has been reduced to a shell to the detriment of thousands of families.

I want to conclude that while Zimbabwe grapples with her conscience as to why she is not being quickly accorded a status of recognition by the civilised world, we cannot continue to allow ourselves to be subjected to legislative ‘mood swings’ that pander only to the whims of Robert Mugabe and his cronies. This “cheerful enthusiasm, relaxed warmth, depressed sluggishness, and hostile irritability” behaviour of ZANU-PF as described by Emotional Intelligence expert Cary Cherniss is symptomatic of institutional instability. Our judiciary is highly credible. As we now approach a new era of democratic legitimacy, men and women of honour must approach the Supreme Court Bench and humbly request that all laws that violate the constitutional rights of commercial farmers, industrialists, miners and prospective investors are struck off our statutes.

Rejoice Ngwenya is President of COMALISO, a think tank in Zimbabwe and an affiliate of This article is syndicated through African