Land reform eats into forex coffers

Augustine Mukaro



PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s delinquent land reform programme has started to eat into government’s thin foreign currency reserves as the Intern

ational Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) is demanding US$150 000 advance payment for costs anticipated in a case involving evicted Dutch farmers.


In a letter to government, the ICSID said the tribunal estimated costs to be incurred during the arbitration due in the next three months at US$150 000.


“We have estimated, after consultations with the president of the tribunal, that an amount of US$150 000 will be required to meet costs to be incurred in the proceedings during the next three to six months, including costs related to the first session of the tribunal,” reads the ICSID letter dated November 2, addressed to the Ministry of Finance and Virginia Mabiza, the acting director of the Civil Division in the Attorney-General’s office.


“ICSID Administrative and Financial Regulations 14 provides for the periodic advance payments to be made to the centre by parties to the ICSID arbitration proceedings in order to enable the centre to meet the costs of such proceedings, including the fees and expenses of arbitrators,” the letter says.


The letter was also copied to Simbi Veke Mubako, the former Zimbabwean Ambassador to the United States.


Mubako has since left the diplomatic service and is currently dean of the Law Faculty at the Midlands State University.


If Zimbabwe loses the case it will be expected to pay in excess of US$15 million as compensation for improvements, land (title deed value) and expropriated moveable assets. The claim is currently accruing interest backdated to the time land was expropriated.


Zimbabwe was last year taken to the international court by Dutch farmers for deliberately violating Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (Bippas) signed between the governments when it embarked on its emotive land reform programme.

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