Detrimental laws remain in place despite lip service to their removal.
• The Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act of 2008 effectively stops white Zimbabweans or foreign investors from having a controlling share in any business;
• The Gazetted Land (Consequential Provisions) Act of 2006 continues to prosecute white farmers criminally for still farming their land and living in their homes as per Section 72 of the 2013 Constitution; • The Public Order and Security Act (POSA)12 of January 2002 and
• The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) of 2002 continue to stifle fundamental freedoms.
There is only one case where a white farmer has been restored to his farm. Rob Smart, his son Darryn and their families were evicted violently by police last year after a bishop, reportedly connected to former first lady Grace Mugabe’s ‘G40’ political faction, was given the farm.
Regrettably Rob Smart’s restoration is against Zimbabwe law as it now stands. The court order that evicted him has not been revoked and nothing has yet been put in place to change the law that led to his eviction. This demonstrates how we live in a rule by decree State. Laws need to be reformed so that violence against people and their property is able to be curbed.
[The Smarts have been told they will get a 99-year lease where, having received no compensation for their farm – which is now considered State land – they can lease their homes and land back from the State for an as yet unspecified amount of money each year. In the convoluted 48-page 99-year lease agreement, the State can evict the lessee with 90 days notice – even if he has crops in the ground].
Farm workers and their children were overjoyed when commercial farmers Darryn Smart and his father, Rob, were allowed to return to their Lesbury farm in December 2017.
America’s values continue to guide foreign policy in Zimbabwe by supporting democratic movements and human rights organizations, as well as contributing very significantly to humanitarian projects. We are deeply grateful to the U.S. for continuing to post exceptional diplomats such as former Ambassador James D. McGee to Harare. Ambassador McGee was prepared to risk his life by going out to witness state sponsored violence against Zimbabweans in the rural areas first-hand – with the press.
On February 24, 2009 shortly after the swearing in of Zimbabwe’s Government of National Unity, Ambassador McGee addressed students at the African University in Mutare. His words apply equally today to the new government led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa: “Despite all the challenges I remain hopeful that true change is coming. I hope that the new [unity] government represents a beginning. We are watching closely and will judge this new government on its actions. If it takes concrete steps to meet the conditions the international community laid out long ago for reengagement, the United States will be at the forefront in providing assistance.
“However before that can happen, we need to see restoration of the rule of law, commitment to the democratic process and respect for human rights, a commitment to timely and internationally supervised elections, full and equal access for all Zimbabweans to humanitarian assistance, and commitment to macroeconomic stabilization in accordance with guidance from relevant international agencies. An important and necessary first step is the release of all political detainees. If we see signs that this is taking place our support will expand. If we do not see these signs, we will continue to provide humanitarian relief while pushing for these changes….”