Commercial Farmers Union of Zimbabwe

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AgriForum to take legal steps against SA gov over Zim land attacks

AfriForum to take legal steps against SA gov over Zim land attacks

SW Radio Africa News stories for Friday 18 June By Alex Bell
18 June 2010

South African civil rights initiative, AfriForum, is set to take legal action against that country’s government, for refusing to protect the lives and property of South African farmers in Zimbabwe.

The group served a lawyers letter on the Department of Trade and Industry last week, demanding that the government intervene to urgently protect its citizens under threat of attack in Zimbabwe. The Department was given until Tuesday this week to respond or face legal action, but by Friday, there was still no response.

According to Kallie Kriel, CEO of AfriForum, the letter was sent to the government, “because the state has not taken any steps to assist citizens, even after it had come to light that South Africans are now subject to a renewed onslaught.” He accused his government of being too “soft” on Robert Mugabe, saying court action was the only way to force the government to take action.

The letter followed a number of land invasions on South African owned farms in recent weeks in the ongoing onslaught against commercial farmers. The home of Mike Odendaal on the Wolwedraai farm in Chipinge has been vandalised and his employees have been driven from the property. Mr P. Hapelt from Grasslands farm in Somabhula has been terrorised by farm invaders and his workers have also face intimidation. Goff Carbutt from Oscardale farm was also arrested earlier this month and has since been barred from entering his property.

At the same time, game on the Denlynian Ranch, owned by Ian Ferguson, have reportedly been slaughtered after the property was invaded in April and looted by ZANU PF supporters, apparently working for co-Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi. Meanwhile members of the police force recently cut the power supply to the Highfields farm in Nyamandlovu, leaving Gary Godfrey’s 10 000 chickens, 130 cattle and 260 sheep without access to any water. It is understood that Mines Minister Obert Mpofu was behind this cruelty, and has been trying to force Godfrey to give up the farm for several weeks.

The South African farmers and their land are meant to be protected by a signed and recently ratified bilateral investment protection agreement between the two countries. This BIPPA was signed in November last year and ratified in May by Robert Mugabe, and is supposed to protect all South African investments, including farms. But legally the BIPPA will only come into force 30 days after both countries have notified each other that they have fulfilled their “respective constitutional requirements for entry into force.” The exchange of notifications has not yet taken place, so the BIPPA is not yet in force.

“In terms of the settlement reached between AfriForum and the South African government re-the BIPPA Trade Agreement, formalised as a court order by the Gauteng North High Court in Pretoria in November 2009, the South African government undertook to maintain the rights and remedies of victims of Zimbabwe’s illegal land expropriation programme,” AfriForum said.

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