'Zanu PF victim of SA judiciary'

HARARE - Zanu PF is a victim of the South African justice system, the party’s secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa said yesterday.

Responding to a recent South African Supreme Court ruling, which ordered Zimbabwean government assets in South Africa to go under the hammer to offset millions owed to farmers whose land was forcibly taken under a chaotic and often violent land reform exercise, Mutasa seemed deflated.

“Ask the South Africans they should explain their actions. We are only victims and that is why we had appealed the High Court judgment and opposed the case all the way,” was all Mutasa could say.

South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein handed down a 23-page judgment on September 20 following an appeal by the Government of Zimbabwe against the North Gauteng High Court’s registration and enforcement of a Tribunal ruling and the subsequent attachment of Zimbabwe government-owned property in Cape Town.

The Sadc Tribunal in November 2008 ruled in the Mike Campbell case, a landmark test case that Zimbabwe’s land reform processes were racist and that farmers ought to have been compensated for their farms.

In June 2009, the Tribunal followed up its ruling with a contempt ruling and costs order, a financial penalty levied against the Zimbabwe government. The costs, determined by the Registrar of the tribunal, were $5 816,47 and ZAR112 780,13.

Despite being subject to the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, the Zimbabwe government declined to pay the costs.

This resulted in an application to the North Gauteng High Court by three Zimbabwean farmers, Louis Fick, Richard Etheredge and the late Campbell, to have the ruling and costs order recognised in South Africa.

After the judge ruled in their favour, AfriForum’s legal representative, Willie Spies, who acted as the farmers’ attorney, said the door was open for the sale of Zimbabwe government properties in Cape Town that AfriForum had seized in 2010.

The Zimbabwe government’s appeal against the North Gauteng High Court ruling was heard last month by the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein on August 27.

The SCA dismissed the Zimbabwe government’s appeal with costs, which included the costs of two counsel.
Despite the Zimbabwe government’s claims to the contrary, the SCA confirmed that, according to the Sadc treaty the decisions of the Tribunal were binding.

Tafadzwa Musarara a businessperson fronting a group known as Resources Exploitation Watch was livid over the judgment.

“The South African Supreme Court ruling, on the execution of Government of Zimbabwe property in pursuance of the Sadc tribunal judgment is very unfortunate, malicious and interferes with the territorial integrity of Zimbabwe.

“This judgment only seeks to intimidate, discourage and dissuade progressive forces in Africa not to copy the Zimbabwe land reform,” Musarara said.

“We urge that more resources be mobilised towards the funding of the Attorney General office so that it is financially able to mount serious legal fight on the pending cases being sponsored by Afriforum and government must buy back these properties should the sale of the same occur,” he said.


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