Mugabe ‘panicking’ over SA court ruling

Robert Mugabe’s angry attack on a South African judge, who handed down a landmark ruling on human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, is a sign of the ageing dictator’s ‘panic’.

Robert Mugabe
Robert Mugabe

This is according to Zimbabwe’s Deputy Justice Minister Obert Gutu, who said on Tuesday that the ruling will leave no place to hide for human rights abusers, and this is why ZANU PF is reacting with such anger and hostility.

The ruling last month said that South Africa must investigate state-sanctioned torture and other crimes against humanity at the hands of Zimbabwean officials in 2007. The ruling is being described as ‘landmark’ for local and international justice, because it means accused ZANU PF officials can be arrested and tried in South Africa for crimes they committed in Zimbabwe.

The ruling Tuesday is the result of a case launched in March by the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) and the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum. The two groups had asked the High Court to review and set aside a decision made by South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the police not to investigate Zimbabwean officials linked to acts of state-sanctioned torture.

ZANU PF has dismissed the ruling as ‘irrelevant’ and the party’s Justice Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, last month said it was only a ‘general’ judgement without specifics.

“The ruling brings the South African justice system into disrepute,” Chinamasa said, adding: “It is a sad moment for the justice system in South Africa.”

Mugabe has since also expressed his anger, telling a convention in Harare last week that the ruling was like a second “apartheid”. Describing the presiding Judge Hans Fabricius in derogatory terms as a “boer”, Mugabe urged South Africa’s ruling ANC to “apply every means at their disposal” to stop the investigation that has been ordered.

The ZANU PF leader told a group of African liberation movements that the ruling was the work of people “still in our midst yearning for the old flags” and who want to replace ‘revolutionary movements’ with “malleable stooges.”

The MDC-T’s Gutu told SW Radio Africa on Tuesday that this reaction is unsurprising, “because they (ZANU PF) are aware now that the net is closing.” He explained that the impunity that Mugabe’s party has enjoyed for so many years is coming to an end, saying the South African ruling is a welcome, important decision.

“Those with skeletons in their closet are very worried, because the chickens are now coming home to roost. They are hiding behind the excuse of the colour of the judge instead of looking at the content of the judgement, which is very strong,” Gutu said. SW Radio Africa

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