by TINTSWALO BALOYI
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – SOME commercial farmers that lost properties in Zimbabwe during the land reform exercise are seeking the intervention of the Supreme Court in a bid to reclaim the farms.
This is the latest twist in the long-drawn case that triggered by the land seizures embarked on by Zimbabwe since the year 2000, under the presidency of Robert Mugabe (now late).
The Namibia-based Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal has ruled in favour of the farmers, who had petitioned the court to issue an order barring the Zimbabwe government from taking over the farms without compensation.
However, getting back the land has been elusive for the farmers.
Recently, the High Court ruled the claim by farmers become irrecoverable due to the expiry of a three-year period.
The claimants are seeking leave to appeal from the High Court against that ruling and filed an application this week.
They allege a conspiracy between Zimbabwe, South Africa and other SADC states acceding to what it called Zimbabwe’s “stratagem” and “masterplan.”
The Constitutional Court has already found exactly that.
“The plaintiffs seek leave to appeal because they believe that the Constitutional Court clearly held (then) President (Jacob) Zuma to have plotted with (then) President Mugabe, and some other SADC leaders, to destroy individual access to the region’s only international law and human rights Tribunal,” said the plaintiffs’ attorney, Willie Spies.
The plaintiffs, mostly South African-based, believe there are reasonable prospects that the Supreme Court of Appeal would disagree with what the High Court has held.
“And it is of great importance to all citizens of SADC to establish whether it is correct that, while President Zuma owed them a legal duty, when he breached that duty their devastating losses are as yet not recoverable,” Spies said.
The new Zimbabwe government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa last year agreed to pay $3,5 billion in compensation to white farmers whose land was expropriated by the government. The payment is only for the infrastructure development, not land.
– CAJ News