Zim loses SA property case

HARARE - An appeal by the Zimbabwean government against an attempt to attach its property in Cape Town was dismissed by the Supreme Court of Appeal on Thursday.

The SCA heard an appeal by the Zimbabwean government against a high court ruling, which registered and enforced a Southern African Development Community (Sadc) tribunal ruling locally and resulted in the attachment of Zimbabwean property in Cape Town.

The litigation began when Zimbabwean farmer Mike Campbell approached the Sadc Tribunal in Windhoek for relief in 2008, after he and his family were targeted by the land grabs of Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe.

The Tribunal, which consisted of five judges from various Southern African states, ruled in November 2008 that the Zimbabwean land reform process was illegal and racist.

It held that Campbell and 77 other farmers, who intervened in his application, should be left in peace and their property rights restored.

Continued legislation led to the registration of the tribunal’s finding in the high court in Pretoria in February 2010, and the attachment of a Zimbabwean government-owned property in Kenilworth, Cape Town.

The attachment was to satisfy a punitive cost order granted by the Sadc tribunal.

The unanimous SCA judgment by a full bench of five judges held that Zimbabwe’s contention that it was not bound by the amendments of the Sadc treaty had no merit.

“There is no merit in the submission that Zimbabwe is not bound by the [Sadc] treaty as amended, or by the protocol as amended,” the judgment read.

The protocol established the tribunal and its jurisdiction.

The SCA found the submissions that the treaty and protocol have not been “domesticated” into local law and that it was not ratified by Parliament missed the point.

— news24

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