Chinamasa's lies can't hide the truth about torture ruling

While anyone interested in justice and tackling the culture of impunity around crimes against humanity that still prevails in Zimbabwe celebrated yesterday's landmark ruling by the South African High Court, one man was vociferous in his condemnation of the judgment - Zimbabwe's very own (in)Justice Minister, Patrick Chinamasa.

Richard Lee's picture

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Strategic communications for WWF

May 9th, 2012

While anyone interested in justice and tackling the culture of impunity around crimes against humanity that still prevails in Zimbabwe celebrated yesterday's landmark ruling by the South African High Court, one man was vociferous in his condemnation of the judgment - Zimbabwe's very own (in)Justice Minister, Patrick Chinamasa. The exception - as they say - proves the rule and Chinamasa's isolated rantings and ravings only served to underline how ground-breaking the decision was by Judge Fabricius to order the South African authorities to investigate senior Zimbabwean officials over their alleged involvement in torture.

Normally it would not be worth dignifying Chinamasa's lies with a response. But this matter is so important - and his defence so lacking in substance and so dependent on the tired old accusations about a white, colonial, land-grabbing conspiracy  - that a brief rebuttal is necessary.

Firstly, the nonsense about this case being brought by 'people working in cahoots with ex-Rhodies who brought a case against Government on the land issue' is quite simply a bare-faced lie. The case was brought by the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum and the Southern Africa Litigation Centre - and has nothing to do with ex-Rhodies or land. It relates to state-sanctioned torture following a police raid on the then-opposition MDC headquarters in 2007.

Secondly, his assertion that this is part of a campaign to tarnish Zimbabwe's image ahead of the visit by the UN Human Rights Commissioner is frankly laughable. The case was lodged back in 2009 and heard in March 2012 - and no one knew the UN Commissioner was coming until last week.

And lastly, his claim that this ruling brings the SA justice system into disrepute shows how ludicrous it is that he is a Minister of Justice. He clearly has no idea of what a properly functioning judicial system looks like - pretty much like the South African one - and no concept of judicial independence or the separation of powers - just look at how he has co-opted and corrupted his own 'justice system'.

Chinamasa's lies cannot hide the truth. The SA High Court decision is a major boost for international justice and a reminder that the rule of law still holds sway in South Africa. More importantly, it shows that justice can prevail over politics.

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