Zim farmers get their own back

2013-09-13 00:00

CAPE TOWN — A house in Kenilworth that belongs to the Zimbabwean government will go under the hammer on Monday to compensate Zimbabwean farmers for their loss of land.

This stems from a four-year legal battle between AfriForum and the Zimbabwean government’s programme to expropriate land from white farmers.

The Constitutional Court on June 27 upheld a ruling by a tribunal of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in favour of 78 Zimbabwe farmers. In November 2008, the tribunal ruled that the Zimbabwean government had violated the organisation’s treaty by denying access to the courts and engaging in racial discrimination in the confiscation of land in the land reform programme in Zimbabwe.

AfriForum had assisted the farmers to register and enforce the findings of the tribunal in South African courts after the Zimbabwean courts had refused to do so.

After the successful registration of the tribunal order in the North Gauteng High Court, the state seized Zimbabwean government assets in Cape Town to compensate the farmers.

The Zimbabwean government had tried to stop the process by appealing the high court’s decision, but both the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court had dismissed the appeal, Afri­Forum said in a statement yesterday.

AfriForum’s legal representative Willie Spies said the Zimbabwean government’s attorneys had, meanwhile, inquired about the amount due under a punitive cost order that the tribunal had awarded against the Zimbabwean government.

He said if Zimbabwe pays, AfriForum would have partly succeeded in forcing Robert Mugabe’s government to comply with the findings of the tribunal, which it has consistently refused to do to date.

“If they do not pay up, we will auction the house on Monday. It will be the first time for the assets of a state which had committed human rights abuses to be auctioned in a neighbouring country. It creates an important precedent,” Spies said.

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