SA activists express joy as Zim govt property auctioned for $282 000

Cape TOWN — White farmers evicted from their land in Zimbabwe won a symbolic victory yesterday when a government-owned house in Cape Town was sold to pay compensation, a lawyer involved in the case said.

Agencies

The auction of the house, which went for R3,76 million ($282 000), was the final step in a complicated case that has been fought through the South African courts for years by a group of Zimbabwean farmers.

But it is unlikely that the farmers will see any of the cash, which will mainly go to cover court costs, said lawyer Willie Spies.

If anything is left over, German bank group KFW Bank Gruppe, which joined the legal action and is believed to be owed tens of millions of dollars by President Robert Mugabe’s government, would take the lion’s share, he said.

“This is a symbolic victory and we will pursue other commercial properties owned by Zimbabwe,” said Spies, who represented the farmers through AfriForum, a mainly white civil rights group in South Africa.

Zimbabwean government representatives attended the auction, but did not bid, he said.

The case began with a ruling in 2008 by a tribunal of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc), which found that Zimbabwe had wrongly taken land from a group of nearly 80 farmers who brought the case, saying they had been targeted due to their race.

The tribunal, which was later disbanded, ruled that they should be compensated.

Zimbabwe rejected the verdict, but a South African court ruled that it could be applied locally as South Africa was a member of Sadc.

Zimbabwe fought the judgment through to South Africa’s Constitutional Court, which confirmed in a landmark judgment in 2013 that the farmers could sue in South African courts for compensation and attach Zimbabwean government assets in the country.

Three other Zimbabwean properties targeted by AfriForum were declared to be covered by diplomatic immunity, while the Cape Town house had been rented out commercially and was, therefore, liable to seizure, Spies said.

“AfriForum regards its litigation against the Zimbabwe government as a civil sanction campaign against the ongoing and systemic abuse of human rights and the rule of law, and the destruction of land ownership in Zimbabwe,” the group said in a statement.

Mugabe’s land reforms, launched in 2000 and accompanied by violent evictions of thousands of white farmers, were ostensibly aimed at redistributing farms to landless blacks.

But critics say they mostly benefitted the veteran leader’s cronies, led to a devastating drop in agricultural production and crippled the economy.

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8 Comments

  1. Farmers are not known for having the best brains. They still dont realise that they did not gain a cent from this misadventure in South Africa!!!!!

    1. It is a struggle biti……u dont win in the initial stages.they made a statement.remember ey had lawyers

    2. @biti it is these ‘small’ victories that matters……..more small victories to come

  2. @ Biti : these seemingly small victories ultimately set a precedent. Remember what happened with the Zuva matter. It looked like a small victory but what were the effects. Food for thought

  3. LOL…What victory?

    I guess if I don’t use electricity today to boil water for a cup of Tea – then I should make news for victory in the fight against Global Warming.

    GET IT…there is no victory here. What precedent does it set? That you can sue and Get nothing I guess and the lawyers get paid

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  6. someone is exposing the pea sized brain here. cant be Biti, the lawyer.maybe Biti the dhakaboy

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