Victory for farmers as Sadc ruling is upheld

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A committee set up to review the Sadc Tribunal ruling which condemned Zimbabwe’s land seizures as illegal, has upheld the regional bloc’s findings and ordered Harare to abide by the court order.

Zimbabwe had declined to recognise the ruling and vowed to go ahead with its land seizures, arguing the land reform programme was irreversible and that the court ruling was a nullity.

In a statement this week, the chairman of the Southern African Commercial Farmers’ Alliance, Chris Jarrett, said the review had since been concluded and has defended the Tribunal’s findings.

Results of the review were released on Tuesday and are expected to be presented at the next Sadc summit on May 20.

“The concluded review has defended the Tribunal’s findings and it has stated that Sadc law should be supreme over domestic laws and constitutions,” he said.

“All decisions made by the court should be binding and enforceable within all member states”
Jarrett said the review also stated that the Sadc Tribunal had the legal authority to deal with individual human rights petitions, that its rulings should be binding over member states and that the Sadc ruling on the land grab issue “cannot be faulted”.

Contacted on Thursday, Justice and Legal Affairs minister Patrick Chinamasa declined to comment on the issue, saying: “It’s a summit matter and not a minister’s matter.”

Seventy-nine Zimbabwean white farmers last year appealed to Sadc leaders at a heads of state summit in Namibia to consider charging Zimbabwe with contempt of court.

However, the Sadc leaders ordered a review of the court ruling, effectively suspending the order.

At the beginning of this month, the farmers filed an urgent application to the Sadc Tribunal, challenging the suspension of the body by the Sadc summit of heads of state and government and the bloc’s council of ministers.

The late Chegutu farmer, Mike Campbell, who made international headlines with his determined legal struggle to recover property seized under the controversial land reform programme, filed the application.