Zim faces SADC action for ignoring farm ruling

2010-07-17 08:14

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) tribunal will

report to the next summit of SADC heads of state on Zimbabwe’s non-compliance

with a ruling on its land reform policies, AfriForum said yesterday.

Mike Campbell, a farmer affected by the land-grab, said: “It is now

time that SADC acted. They have burnt my house with all its contents, they have

looted my crops and my tractors, they have tortured my workers, they have killed

my animals, they have stripped my farm, and they have beaten me to within an

inch off my life – from which I have never recovered.”

Campbell’s application to the tribunal in 2008 resulted in a ruling

that Zimbabwe’s land reform process was racist and contravened international


At the time, the tribunal, which sits in Namibia, ruled that

farmers be compensated for their losses, but the Zimbabwean government said it

did not recognise the ruling.

It was found in contempt by the tribunal last year and was reported

to the SADC summit “to take appropriate action“, said Campbell’s son-in law, Ben

Freeth, who farmed with him.

Yesterday, the tribunal heard that Zimbabwe’s government was still

violating its rulings on commercial farmers.

Freeth said the three areas it identified as being where the

Zimbabwe government was continuing to violate its decision, and therefore the

SADC Treaty, were:

  • The endangering of the

    lives, liberty and property of those the decision was meant to protect;

  • A written description of any

    tribunal decisions or future decisions against Zimbabwe as “null and void” by

    Zimbabwe’s Justice and Legal Affairs Minister; and

  • The Zimbabwe High Court’s

    refusal to register the tribunal’s judgment.

Freeth said the tribunal had recalled that it had directed the

Zimbabwe government to take all necessary measures to protect the possession,

occupation and ownership of farmers’ land.

It had also directed the government to take all appropriate

measures to ensure that no-one took any action, directly or indirectly, to evict

the farmers who brought the application or to interfere with their peaceful

residence on the land.

Freeth said the impact of the land grab, which started in 2000, was

being felt across the country with a wheat crop 3% of that a decade ago and

heavy reliance on food aid.

He said: “Despite the SADC-brokered Global Political Agreement

(GPA), invasions and looting have continued unabated.

“This has destroyed the country’s ability to feed itself and ruined

the entire commercial farming industry, depriving tens of thousands of

additional farm workers of their jobs and livelihoods.”

Given that SADC had guaranteed the GPA and put in place the

tribunal, it was up to SADC to take stern measures to ensure the Zimbabwe

government addressed the collapse of the rule of law and human rights abuses in

rural areas, said Freeth.

AfriForum said the Zimbabwe government filed an urgent application

last week against Campbell and fellow farmers Louis Fick and Richard Etheredge

to suspend a writ of execution under which they attached Zimbabwean-owned

property in Cape Town.

The farmers were opposing the application, with the assistance of

AfriForum, said its legal representative Willie Spies. The matter would be heard

on August 3 in the Pretoria High Court.

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