Commercial Farmers Union of Zimbabwe

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Lifeline for indigenous sugarcane farmers

Lifeline for indigenous sugarcane farmers

Tawanda Mangoma in Chiredzi
Over 200 indigenous sugarcane farmers in the Lowveld have been thrown a lifeline after the Supreme Court set aside an appeal by former Lands and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Douglas Mombeshora against a High Court decision invalidating the withdrawal of offer letters he issued to the new farmers last year.

Dr Mombeshora had approached the Supreme Court for relief after the High Court ruled that his decision to withdraw offer letters from the indigenous farmers was a nullity since those powers can only be exercised by the President.

The affected farmers dragged Dr Mombeshora to the High Court early this year contesting his decision to withdraw the offer letters they had been issued for land on the 4000-hectare Tongaat cane plantations.

The offer letters were withdrawn after it emerged that the cane plots had been “erroneously” allocated to indigenous sugarcane farmers on Tongaat plantations protected under the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement between Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Last week, the Supreme Court, in a letter to the Civil Division of the Attorney General’s Office, said Dr Mombeshora’s notice of appeal was not properly served as per the rules of the superior court.

In the letter dated November 27, 2017, the Supreme Court said the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement had not filed adequate documentation for the court to proceed with its appeal.

“Reference is made to the notice of appeal you filed on 3 April 2017, said the court. It is noted that you did not serve the Register of the Administrative Court with the notice of appeals as required by the rule 29 (2) of the Supreme Court Rules 1964.“Consequently, you did not comply with rule 34 (1) o the same rules to make any arrangements for the preparation of the record within the time specified in Sub rule (1) of the rule 34 of the Supreme Court Rules 1964.

“In terms of Sub-rule (5) of Rule 34 of the aforementioned rules, the appeal is deemed as to have lapsed and have been abandoned.”

Lowveld Sugarcane Producers Association secretary Mr Ailess Baloyi said they will continue to work on the land.

“We have always been clear that we will continue to work on our fields, which the Government allocated to us,” he said.

“The courts have even given us the green light to continue maintaining our crop and we like it.”

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