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Ruling Favoring Black Squatters Nullified

November 25, 2000|From Reuters

HARARE, Zimbabwe — The Supreme Court here on Friday overturned a ruling by a lesser court that had ordered that supporters of President Robert Mugabe be allowed to remain on white-owned farms they had invaded.

In a unanimous decision, the five-member Supreme Court declared invalid Monday's order by High Court Judge Godfrey Chidyausiku for the squatters to stay put pending a Supreme Court ruling expected next month on the constitutionality of Mugabe's land seizure program.

"It is hereby declared . . . that the order by the High Court . . . which purported to suspend temporarily the order of this court and to grant leave to bring a class action before this court is invalid," Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay said Friday.

"It follows therefore that the interim relief granted by the High Court falls away."

Earlier Friday, about 300 self-styled independence war veterans disrupted the hearing when they broke into the court building and chased away lawyers representing the mainly white Commercial Farmers' Union. Order was restored, and the court reconvened later.

The demonstrators sang revolutionary songs and waved placards praising Mugabe's stance on land.

The Supreme Court this month ordered the government to stop its illegal land grab and to evict the squatters, who began invading white-owned farms in February.

Chidyausiku's ruling overturned the eviction order on the ground that the Supreme Court must first hear a class-action case filed by one squatter, who says he is representing all peasants who have moved onto white farms.

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