|South Africa ordered by courts to protect white farmers in Zimbabwe|
|Africans in Government|
|Saturday, 28 November 2009 10:02|
The Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA) between Zimbabwe and South Africa, set to be signed on Friday in Harare, excludes farms that have been expropriated during Zimbabwe's land reform programme.
AfriForum and a South African farmer whose land had been expropriated under the land reform programme had sought the court's intervention to halt Friday's signing of the BIPPA.
The farmer, Louis Fick, is locked in a bitter legal wrangle with the Zimbabwean authority over the compulsory acquisition of his farm.
At least 244 South African farmers whose land was seized during the land invasions would be affected if the agreement excludes agriculture from sectors that would be protected by the pact.
The BIPPA was generally understood to have the effect to exclude the enforcement of the SADC Tribunal's orders, and to exempt Zimbabwe from liability for past human rights violations.
"This result would be contrary to South Africa's legal obligations in terms of its constitution and international law," AfriForum legal representative Willie Spies said.
Spies said the South African government had conceded in its court papers that the Zimbabwean land reform exercise was unlawful.
It also acknowledged the binding nature of the SADC Tribunal's rulings and international obligations arising from the regional court's orders.
The Zimbabwe government has refused to recognise the jurisdiction of the Windhoek-based Tribunal in Namibia, saying the statutes establishing the regional court had not yet been ratified by a required two-thirds majority of SADC's 15 member states.
He said the High Court order opened the way for registering the SADC Tribunal's judgments in South Africa and to pursue other remedies which AfriForum and other interested parties would now consider.