This is despite the fact that hordes of white commercial farmers protected by the tribunal ruling are currently being forcefully being removed off their properties.
“As far as we are concerned Zimbabwe is still part of SADC and according to Article 16 of the SADC treaty , the decision of the tribunal is final and binding,“ said Charles Mkandawire, the tribunal registrar told Radio VOP by phone from Windhoek, Namibia. “The Zimbabwe matter is now in the hands of SADC heads who will advise us on the way forward.”
Mkandawire categorically dismissed claims made by the Zimbabwean government last August saying it had pulled out of the tribunal.
The Minister of Justice Patrick Chinamasa wrote to the tribunal last year advising of Zimbabwe’s decision to pullout of the regional court. A decision which was later described by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai as a “personal“ opinion.
“According to us the Zimbabwean government is still part of the tribunal. We have no document saying they have pulled out, they have just said they will not appear before the tribunal. Zimbabwe is still part and parcel of the SADC and they is no way it can not be part of the tribunal unless f it pulls out of SADC,“ said Mkandawire.
Last year Harare announced that it was pulling out of the tribunal saying it is yet to ratify a treaty setting it up and therefore can not be bound by its decisions.
Mugabe’s chaotic and often violent programme to seize white-owned farm land for redistribution to landless blacks saw several farms owned by foreigners and protected under bilateral trade agreements between Zimbabwe and other countries seized without compensation.
The seizure of private land has raised questions about Zimbabwe’s commitment to uphold property rights as well as agreements entered with other countries.
Last month the South African embassy in Harare wrote a protest later over the renewed farm invasions which saw several farms owned by South African farmers invaded. Some of these farms are protected under the Bilateral Investment and Protection Agreement (BIPPA).
South Africa and Zimbabwe, at one time each other’s biggest trading partner on the continent.
Meanwhile the High Court in Johannesburg on Friday ordered the government to compensate a Free State farmer for property seized from him in Zimbabwe.
The South African government may be forced to pay up to R500m to Crawford von Abo after several of his farms were seized by Zimbabwe’s government as part of that country’s land reform programme.
Von Abo’s lawyer, Ernst Penzhorn was quoted as saying the ruling proved the South African judicial system was working. Radio VOP/ SAPA