Zim faces censure for ignoring farm ruling

The SADC tribunal will report to the next summit of SADC heads of state Zimbabwe’s non-compliance with a ruling on its land reform policies, AfriForum said on Friday.

“It is now time that SADC acted,” said Mike Campbell, a farmer affected by the land grab.

“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, they have
beaten me to within an inch off my life — from which I have never recovered,” he said in a statement.

Campbell’s application to the tribunal in 2008 resulted in a ruling that Zimbabwe’s land reform process was racist and contravened international law.

At the time, the tribunal, which sits in Namibia, ruled that farmers be compensated for their losses, but the Zimbabwe government said it did not recognise the ruling.

It was found in contempt by the tribunal in 2009 and was reported to the SADC summit “to take appropriate action”, said Campbell’s son-in law, Ben Freeth, who farmed with him.

On Friday, 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:

  • 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
  • Zimbabwe’s high court’s refusal to register the tribunal’s judgrment.

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.

Reliance on food aid
It had also directed the government to take 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 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.

“Despite the SADC-brokered global political agreement (GPA), invasions and looting have continued unabated,” he said.

“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 High Court in Pretoria. – Sapa

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