BIPA trade deal in the air

businessHARARE The Zimbabwean government seems confident that tomorrow they, together with South Africa, will sign the long-awaited Bilateral Investment Protection Agreement (BIPA), but it has been revealed that behind the scenes, Afriforum has other intentions.

The organisation works with minority groups in an effort to enable them to participate in public debate and action.

According to well-known human rights advocate, Rob Davies, the proposed agreement is in contravention of the South African Constitution, several international legal principles and existing court orders of the Supreme Court in Pretoria and the tribunal of SADC.

If the signing ceremony were to proceed, AfriForum intends to submit an application for an interdict to the North Gauteng Supreme Court in Pretoria.

However, the country’s International Trade Minister, Welshman Ncube, was confident that the signing ceremony was going ahead.

“Everything will be clarified on Friday when we sign the agreement,” Ncube

could only say.

Ncube, however, refused to reveal to ***The Zimbabwean whether the BIPA includes the country’s land reform programme.

The continued seizure of private land, even land protected under bilateral trade agreements between Zimbabwe without compensation, has raised questions about the government’s commitment to upholding property rights, as well as agreements entered with other nations.

The group of farmers supported by Afriforum are being represented by Louis Fick, a farmer from Friedawil Farm near Chinoye in the east of Zimbabwe. Fick is a South

African citizen and has been farming in Zimbabwe in Friedawil since 1993. He was one of 79 farmers who were successful with legal action at a SADC tribunal.

The South African farmers last week called on Pretoria to ensure that Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s controversial land reform programme was included in the BIPA.

The government has clashed with a number of countries over the violation of the bilateral investment protection and promotion agreements it has with those nations.

Germany recently protested to the government over a move by Brigadier General Justin Mujaji to invade a Karoi farm owned by a German national in complete violation of a bilateral investment protection agreement between the two countries. Staff reporters

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