HomeCommentFarmers file contempt of court charges against govt

Editor”s Comment:Copac process a national disaster

A GROUP of white commercial farmers who were dispossessed of their land during the chaotic land reform programme have filed an urgent application with the Sadc Tribunal against the government for contempt of court.

The commercial farmers want the Sadc Tribunal to grant an enforcement order urging Sadc leaders to take measures that might include the suspension or expulsion of Zimbabwe from the regional bloc.

The Sadc Tribunal ruling allowed white farmers, whose farms were acquired by government for resettlement purposes, to remain on the farms because they had legal title to them.

Justice Luis Mondlane, the president of the Tribunal, ruled in 2008 that the white farmers had a clear legal title to their farms and should receive fair compensation from government for the properties lost during the land reform programme.

The farmers’ application to the Tribunal comes barely a month after the Pretoria High Court ruled that the farmers could attach Zimbabwe government properties in South Africa and have them auctioned to get their compensation.

The lawyer representing the commercial farmers, Norman Tjombe, said in a statement released on Wednesday that they will push ahead with the case until a judgment has been granted in favour of the farmers.

“The case is essentially another contempt application against the Zimbabwe government and against the High Court of Zimbabwe which refused to register the Sadc Tribunal judgment on the basis that it was against public policy,” Tjombe said. “We were also asking for an enforcement order from the Tribunal that would have urged the Sadc leaders to take measures that might involve suspension or expulsion of Zimbabwe from Sadc.”

The three white commercial farmers who took the Zimbabwe government to the Sadc Tribunal are Louis Fick, Mike Campbell and Richard Etheredge.

Last month the Pretoria High Court ruled that the white commercial farmers have a right to approach courts in South Africa to seek redress over the land issue.

Four properties belonging to the Zimbabwean government were identified and were set to be auctioned to recover their money for the land and developments on the farms acquired during the controversial land reform programme.

According to reports in the South African media, AfriForum, a civil rights group that brought the application on behalf of the farmers, the properties are in Zonnebloem, Wynberg and Kenilworth in Cape Town.

The properties were bought for between R525 000 and R1 million by the government in 1995. Reports from South Africa said deeds records show that the properties are registered under the name of the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe.

The properties are non-diplomatic and are therefore not protected by any immunity from legal action. The Pretoria High Court judgment however does not affect properties that are being used by the Zimbabwean Embassy in South Africa as they are protected by diplomatic immunity.

 

Loughty Dube

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