LAWYERS for the Zimbabwean government walked out of a court in Namibia yesterday after a group of white farmers brought an urgent application before the Sadc Tribunal, asking it to act against President Robert Mugabeâ€™s regime for harassing them.
The Sadc Tribunal, which is based in the Namibian capital Windhoek, had ordered the Zimbabwe government not to interfere with Mike Campbell or 77 other white farmers pending the outcome of their case, in which they are challenging their eviction under Mugabeâ€™s controversial land reform programme.
The Zimbabwe government was represented by Deputy Attorney General (Civil Division) Prince Machaya, chief law officer Fatima Maxwell and Advocate Martin Dinha of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Justice.
On Wednesday, the court heard submissions from the farmers and the Zimbabwean government on one part of the farmersâ€™ case dealing with a Zimbabwean law that bars them from contesting their evictions through the courts.
The farmers say the law violates the Sadc treaty to which Zimbabwe and 13 other countries in the region are signatories.
Yesterday, the tribunal heard an urgent application by the farmers to refer Mugabeâ€™s government to next monthâ€™s Sadc summit of heads of state and government in South Africa for violating an injunction granted by the court in the farmersâ€™ favour.
The tribunal had ordered the government not to harass or evict the farmers until their case was heard. In recent weeks, however, militia allegedly aligned to Mugabeâ€™s Zanu-PF have reportedly invaded several white-owned farms.
Campbell, the first of the farmers to turn to the Sadc Tribunal last year, in a last-ditch bid to remain on the land, was badly beaten along with his wife and son-in-law during an attack on his farm.
The farmers are looking for the Sadc Tribunal to refer Zimbabweâ€™s violations of the injunction for discussion at the South Africa summit.
After the five-judge bench dismissed the Zimbabwean stateâ€™s request for a postponement of the application, the governmentâ€™s legal team excused themselves from the proceedings.
The tribunal reserved judgement on both of the farmersâ€™ appeals. â€” DPA.