President Robert Mugabe yesterday delivered one of his shortest public speeches which only lasted about 20 minutes as he officiated at the burial of the late retired Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku at the National Heroes Acre.
BY OBEY MANAYITI
Mugabe, who flew into the country yesterday morning from Singapore where he had gone for a medical check-up, heaped praises on Chidyausiku’s role in defending the land reform programme.
He said Chidyausiku was key in fighting for the government’s position on the controversial land reform programme which was facing stiff resistance from some quarters, including the former Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay.
“As chief justice, the late Godfrey Chidyausiku will be remembered for the most important role he played in defending and shaping the course of our land reform programme.
“When we embarked on the third Chimurenga programme, there was intense fighting as you know, the white farmers did everything possible to derail it,” said Mugabe while attacking Gubbay and other white judges for trying to sabotage the land reform.
He said Chidyausiku came up with decisions which made the land reform programme possible.
“He applied his sharp legal mind to overturn the Justice Gubbay judgements,” he said.
The land reform has been fingered as one of the biggest contributors to the country’s woes after most of the productive farm land was redistributed to uncommitted and ill-equipped farmers who are failing to utilise the farms.
Before the land reform programme, Zimbabwe was highly regarded as the bread basket of southern Africa whose economy was rooted on agriculture.
In recent years, however, the country has been a net importer of maize required to feed the country.
However, despite the huge shortfalls, Mugabe justified the programme.
“He was defending us on the land reform programme because there were whites who wanted to spoil it by going to the courts, even to those in Britain. If you have judges who understand your circumstances and who are sons of the soil too; who fear that if the land is taken they too will be left poor, they will defend the country well,” he said.
Mugabe also revealed that the late retired chief justice did not influence the selection and appointment of his successor, after he led interviews that made recommendations for Justice Luke Malaba’s elevation.
He said after the interviews, Chidyausiku sent his recommendations to Justice minister and Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who then forwarded them to him.
The selection of a chief justice became the new battleground for Zanu PF factional fights, with Mnangagwa being accused of trying to manipulate the system to influence the appointment.
Chidyausiku died in South Africa last week but his burial was delayed by about 10 days as Mugabe flew to Singapore for a medical check-up, amid fears that his health is fast deteriorating due to old age.
Several top government officials, ministers and jurists from southern Africa attended the burial.