Farmers denied appeal

HARARE - The administrative court has granted with costs the order sought by the Zimbabwe government to withdraw over 4 000 cases in which former commercial farmers are contesting the acquisition of their properties under Mugabe's land reform programme. The judgment also allowed the government to fo

rmally withdraw all other land cases that were pending before the Administrative Court as they had been “aborted” by Constitutional Amendment No.17. The sample case brought before the court was that of Farm 10 “A” Umsweswe River Block in which the owner had sought to block the acquisition of the property. The Government sought to withdraw the application following the promulgation of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment No. 17 in September, which nullified the challenges that the farmers had in recent years filed against the acquisition of their properties and which turned the farms into State property. The Administrative Court was faced with a backlog of over 5 000 cases, compelling authorities to appoint more presidents (judges) and lawyers from the civil service in a bid to deal with the outstanding challenges. Of these cases, 1 400 land acquisitions had been confirmed by August 2005 while 302 others were settled out of court. Government had been complaining that the challenges were stalling the implementation of the land redistribution initiative in some parts of the country, a situation that the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment No 17 sought to correct. According to Section 16B of the Act, all agricultural land that was identified on or before July 8 2005 under Section 5 (1) of the Land Acquisition Act (Chapter 20:10) and that identified afterwards is now State property. – Own correspondent

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