SA acts on Bippa defiance

south_africaJOHANNESBURG - The South African Department of International Relations and Co-Operations has sent an official note of protest to the Zimbabwean government about the alleged transgression of the recently signed bilateral agreement for the promotion and protection of investments (Bippa).

A statement from the department confirmed that it had made formal contact with the Zimbabwean authorities and government with regard to issues raised by South African citizens residing in Zimbabwe.

We will continue to offer consular services to all South African citizens who might have been affected by any unfortunate circumstances that are beyond their control, said Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. We call upon those who have been affected to remain calm as we progressively address their plight in light of these prevailing circumstances until things return to normality.

This follows a bid at the North Gauteng Supreme Court by the civil rights movement, AfriForum, on January 12 to cite the Zimbabwean government as a party to a court application against the country.

The purpose of the bid was an attempt to enforce the ruling of the SADC Tribunal in 2008 that labelled the land reform process of President Robert Mugabe illegal and racist, and ordered that compensation had to be paid to farmers who had already been expropriated.

While the South African government signed a bilateral agreement with Zimbabwe for the promotion and protection of mutual investments (Bippa), the campaign included the targeting of South African citizens.

When AfriForum requested that the South African government use its newly obtained bargaining power with Bippa to protect South Africans in Zimbabwe, the South African government said that Bippa had to be ratified by the Zimbabwean Parliament first.

The recent decision by South African Department of International Relations and Co-Operations is the first time that the government has taken up the issue of invasion of South African owned farms with the Zimbabwean government.

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