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December 17, 2008

Zimbabwe to defy SADC court's ruling on seized farms

The Zimbabwean government has said that it would ignore a ruling by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal to give back farms confiscated from a group of white farmers under its controversial agrarian reform programme.

The Zimbabwean government has seized thousands of farms from white farmers, who owned the bulk of the country's prime farming land, to resettle landless blacks.

A group of 78 white farmers challenged the seizure of the farms at the SADC Tribunal in Namibia, and won their case. But Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement Minister Didymus Mutasa said the government would ignore the ruling, including the tribunal's order that the authorities ensure and protect the property rights of the country's remaining 75 white farmers.

"They (farmers) are day-dreaming because we are not going to reverse the land reform programme," Mutasa said. He said that the government intended to acquire more farms for resettlement, ignoring the tribunal's order that the government stops fresh re-possessions of white-owned farms. "There is nothing special about the 75 (remaining white farmers) and we will take more farms. Its not discrimination against (white farmers), it is correcting land imbalances," he said.

In the ruling, SADC Tribunal Judge Louis Mondlane said that the government had irregularly acquired the farms belonging to the 78 white farmers, and the properties should be handed back to the owners.


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