Zimbabwe court holds off scrapping white farmers' cases

Posted On Tuesday, 20 September 2005 02:00 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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A court in Zimbabwe has held off a decision on a government request to scrap legal challenges by white farmers whose properties have been seized, a lawyer said.

Property-Housing-Residential

The administrative court put off the ruling on some 4,000 cases involving government seizures of farms pending further information from the attorney general, said Richard Wood, a lawyer representing some 250 commercial farmers.

The government was to ask the court Monday to scrap the challenges after a constitutional amendment on state ownership of land was approved, effectively preventing farmers from taking legal recourse.

"The state lawyer told the judge he was still waiting instructions from the attorney general's office," said Wood.

"Until then, the case cannot proceed and was for now struck off the roll," he told AFP.

Wood said he believed the attorney general's office would consolidate the cases before returning to court to have them scrapped.

"The constitutional amendment in any way rendered these cases totally irrelevant unless somebody can actually go to court and challenge the constitutional amendment itself," he said.

The constitutional changes approved by President Robert Mugabe earlier this month would allow the state to assume ownership of farms immediately after a property has been listed for expropriation, making it impossible for white farmers to seek legal redress.

But State Security and Lands Reform Minister Didymus Mutasa said on Monday that land reform would continue until all farms had been acquired by the state.

"Naturally we are going to acquire all land in Zimbabwe, make no mistake about that. After we have done that we are going to allocate that land to everybody irrespective of their race," Mutasa told AFP.

"In other words if there are white farmers who want to farm here in Zimbabwe they will get an offer letter from me like everybody else and then eventually they will get a 99-year lease," he said.

Zimbabwe has since 2000 seized some 4,000 farms and redistributed them to landless blacks under its land reform programme. Fewer than 500 white commercial farms remain.

Last modified on Wednesday, 16 April 2014 12:02

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