Farmers seek Tribunal ruling on compensation

sadc_tribunalHARARE Zimbabwes embattled white commercial farmers will ask the Southern SADC Tribunal to decide on the method to be used to calculate compensation due to farmers for land lost under President Robert Mugabes farm redistribution programme that the regional court has ruled illegal.

The Southern African Commercial Farmers Union (SACFA), fighting for the rights of commercial farmers mainly from South African and Zimbabwe, said the South African Development Community should set guidelines of what constitutes fair compensation and how it should be calculated.

We are going back to the SADC Tribunal asking what fair compensation is if we have lost everything taken from us? What is it (fair compensation) in monetary terms can be regarded as fair compensation? SACFA official Dave Connoly told more than 100 farmers in Harare last week.

In a November 2008 ruling on an application brought by 79 white Zimbabwean farmers facing seizure of the farms under Mugabes land reforms, the Tribunal declared the Zimbabwean leaders farm reforms discriminatory, racist and illegal under the SADC Treaty. The regional court barred Harare from seizing land from the 79 farmers and to compensate those whose properties it had already taken.

A Harare High Court judge a fortnight ago dismissed an application by white farmers to have the Tribunal ruling registered and pave way for its enforcement in Zimbabwe saying enforcing the regional courts judgment would be against public policy in the country.

There is clearly little hope the Tribunal rulings will be upheld by the present government in Zimbabwe which remains dominated by Mugabe despite the veteran leader agreeing to cede some of his powers to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in a power-sharing agreement that gave birth to their unity government last February.

But more Tribunal rulings in there are likely to be more useful in the future when and if political power changes hands in Harare.

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