Govt to recall judge from regional court

sadc_tribunalHARARE The Zimbabwe government is recalling a judge it had seconded to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said last week.

Former Harare High Court Justice Antoinette Guvava was seconded to the Tribunal by the government in 2005. The government now claims it does not recognise the Tribunal after the regional court ruled against Harare in a key land case. We are in the process of withdrawing her from that Tribunal until the organisation is properly constituted. At the moment it is not properly regularised and its powers are supposed to be derived from a treaty ratified by two thirds of the members, said Chinamasa.

The Tribunal last November dealt a heavy body blow to President Robert Mugabes controversial programme to seize white-owned farmland for redistribution to landless blacks when it ruled that the chaotic and often violent programme was discriminatory, racist and illegal under the SADC Treaty.

The regional court ordered Harare not to evict the 78 farmers and that it pays full compensation to those it had already forced off farms.

Mugabe publicly dismissed the ruling by the Namibia-based Tribunal, while his followers in the military and in his Zanu (PF) party defied the court order by continuing to seize more land from the few white farmers remaining in Zimbabwe.

Government farm seizures which started in 2000 have resulted in the majority of the about 4 000 white commercial farmers being forcibly ejected from their properties without being paid compensation for the land, which Mugabe has refused to pay for saying it was stolen from blacks in the first place.

Land redistribution, that Mugabe says was necessary to correct a unjust and immoral colonial land ownership system that reserved the best land for whites and banished blacks to poor soils, is blamed for plunging Zimbabwe into food shortages after Harare failed to support black villagers resettled on former white farms with inputs to maintain production.

Critics say Mugabes powerful cronies and not ordinary peasants benefited the most from farm seizures with some of them ending up with as many as six farms each against the governments stated one-man-one-farm policy.

Poor performance in the mainstay agricultural sector has also had far reaching consequences as hundreds of thousands of workers have lost jobs while the manufacturing sector, starved of inputs from the sector, is operating below 20 percent of capacity.

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