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Friday, 24 November, 2000, 16:24 GMT
Bedlam in Zimbabwean court
Protesters march through Harare
Protesters march through Harare after storming court
The Supreme Court in Zimbabwe has again ruled that supporters of President Mugabe who have illegally occupied white-owned farms, should be evicted.


Mugabe makes the laws, not the courts

Placard
The hearing was delayed by supporters of the ruling party who stormed into the courtroom, creating chaos.

They danced on desks and chairs and chanted slogans denouncing whites and members of the judiciary - before finally leaving.

However, in a unanimous decision, the judges then overturned a ruling by a lower court allowing the squatters to remain until a definitive judgement was made on the constitutional legality of Mr Mugabe's land seizure programme.

The hearing was asked for by the mainly white Commercial Farmers' Union.

Dancing in court

Lawyers, journalists and farmers' leaders were waiting for the five Supreme Court judges to enter the small, colonial-style courtroom when about a hundred chanting and placard-waving protesters surged in.

Tim Henwood
CFU President Tim Henwood puts his trust in the courts
Several hundred more demonstrated outside the building.

They shouted that Zimbabwe was for blacks and demanded that whites go back to Britain.

Some carried banners reading "Mugabe makes the laws, not the courts".

Contempt

Our correspondent says that this was the most vivid illustration to date of the contempt for the courts felt by many of those behind the invasions of white-owned farms.

War veterans sing revolutionary songs
Zanu-PF supporters have ignored previous court rulings
Members of the War Veterans' Association staged a similar demonstration inside the High Court several years ago as part of their successful campaign for large pay-outs from the governments.

Friday's protest ended with the police ushering the lawyers and others out of the courtroom, forcing the postponement of the hearing.

A CFU spokesman said the episode showed the lengths to which those opposed to the rule of law were prepared to go.

Previous Supreme Court rulings on the land issue have been ignored by ruling party supporters.

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See also:

02 Aug 00 | Business
Zimbabwe devalues currency
03 Aug 00 | Africa
Mugabe denies farm truce
24 Nov 00 | Business
Tobacco boom in Zimbabwe
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