Nehanda and Kaguvi who led the First Chimurenga of the Zimbabwe Revolution to oppose British imperialism. They are shown in the custody of the settler-colonialists who robbed and exploited the country and its people for over a century from the 1890s., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
‘We should sue Britain for colonial era crimes’
Tuesday, 09 October 2012 00:00
Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
LEGAL experts and political analysts yesterday said Zimbabweans should consider pursuing a lawsuit against Britain for crimes against humanity during the colonial era. This followed a London court ruling last week that three elderly Kenyan could sue for damages for the grave abuses they suffered when imprisoned during the Mau Mau rebellion.
The London court rejected Britain’s claim that too much time had elapsed for there to be a fair trial. It also threw out an earlier claim that the Mau Mau veterans should be suing the Kenyan government instead of Britain.
Local legal analysts said the Kenyan case set precedence for any affected person to launch a legal suit against Britain.
Others said Zimbabwe could even go further to sue the British government for reneging on its earlier undertaking to fund the land reform programme that the Margaret Thatcher administration agreed to before the government led by Tony Blair chickened out.
Advocate Farai Mutamangira said the British government was legally liable for the atrocities committed against black Zimbabweans during the colonial era.
“It is legally feasible to sue,” he said. “There are many wrongs which the colonial regime committed against the people of Zimbabwe and it is something that we can pursue.”
Adv Mutamangira said the fact that former Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith made a Unilateral Declaration of Independence did not leave the British government untainted.
A Kwekwe-based legal practitioner, Mr Valentine Mutatu, said subsequent court actions against the British government would be bound by the Mau Mau ruling.
He, however, said the only technical hitch that might be used against Zimbabwe was its withdrawal from the Commonwealth.
“We can successfully sue because we were under the Crown until we withdrew from the Commonwealth. The withdrawal from the Crown might be a technical hitch that might hold us back,” he said.
Former chairperson of the Zimbabwe National War Veterans Association, Cde Patrick Nyaruwata, said the idea to launch a legal suit was noble.
He said the frosty relationship between Harare and London might affect Zimbabwe from getting a judgment in its favour.