Friday, January 4, 2013

Zimbabwe halts farm grabs

Zimbabwe halts farm grabs
Jan 03 2013 14:30

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Harare - Zimbabwe has ceased grabbing foreign-owned farms protected by bilateral investment agreement after a group of 40 Dutch farmers won a lawsuit for the loss of their properties, the lands minister said on Thursday.

Herbert Murerwa said government has decided to steer clear of farms falling under the so-called Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA), because previous ventures into those farmlands have proved costly.

"All farms under BIPPA will not be acquired under the land reform programme. That's the position we have taken for now," the minister told AFP.

"This is in view of the ongoing litigation in the ICSID (International Court for the Settlement of Investment Disputes)."

The tribunal, which is a branch of the World Bank, in 2009 ruled in favour of the Dutch farmers who had sought compensation for land expropriated by Zimbabwe.

It ordered the government to pay the farmers €8.8m ($11.5m) in compensation and slapped on a 10% interest for every six months from the date the farms were seized until full payment of the amounts.

Murerwa said the government owed the farmers $25m following their victory at the Washington-based tribunal.

The farms were covered under a deal compelling Zimbabwe to protect investments from countries that penned the pact.

"Government will abide by the provision of the agreements and at the same time we do not want to increase our liability," Murerwa said.

Countries covered by the investment protection agreement include Denmark, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Malaysia and Switzerland.

President Robert Mugabe launched a controversial land reform programme in 2000 which saw the often-times violent seizure of more than 3 000 white-owned farms by militant supporters of his Zanu-PF party.

It was argued the land reforms were needed to correct colonial-era imbalances which favoured white farmers.

Farmers win Zim land grab case

Jun 06 2011 15:14 Sapa

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Pretoria - The North Gauteng Court in Pretoria on Monday rejected an application by the Zimbabwean government to prevent its assets being sold to compensate farmers who suffered land grabs.

The three farmers - Louis Fick, Richard Etheredge and the late Mike Campbell - last year seized Zimbabwean government assets in Cape Town.

They had lost their farms in Zimbabwe's controversial land seizures.

A statement released by AfriForum, which was assisting the three farmers, said the court's rejection of the Zimbabwean government's application to prevent the seizure paved the way for the properties to be sold.

The tribunal of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) ruled in November 2008 that Zimbabwe's land reform processes were racist and illegal, and that farmers ought to have been compensated for their farms.

The tribunbal's ruling allowed for the registration and enforcement of the tribunal's orders in Sadc member countries.

AfriForum assisted the three farmers to have the tribunal's orders registered at the North Gauteng High Court and three Zimbabwean properties no longer used for diplomatic purposes were seized.

The Zimbabwean government opposed the seizure.

"The ruling is of historic significance. For probably the first time in international legal history, a court ruled that the assets of a country guilty of human rights violations must be sold at public auction," said AfriForum's lawyer Willie Spies, who represented the farmers.

He said arrangements were being made to sell the properties at a public auction as soon as possible.

All three farmers were violently expelled from their farms. Campbell, who was severely beaten up by farm invaders, died in April 2011.



  1. Mugabe has overstayed his journey to his final resting place......

    He should meet the same end as the displaced farmers!

    The despot must be Father Time.

  2. The Arab Spring has not brought democracy to the sands of North Africa. In that Dark Continent, dictatorial maniacs like Mad Bob Mugabe cling to power by their rifle-straps. In South America, crazies rule Argentina and Venezuela, to name but two.

    Putin’s Russia is reverting to the dictatorship of the one-man personality cult. China cloaks the world’s most brutal species of Marxism in the rhetoric of the free market, while silently building up the world’s largest-ever military force backed by a giant naval fleet, and still more silently buying up the debts of Western governments, gathering their power, their wealth, their sovereignty and their future into its ruthless hands.