August 19, 2010

SADC sets deadline for land seizures review

Leaders of the 15-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) have six months to review Zimbabwe's refusal to abide with an SADC ruling against its land seizures, South Africa's deputy president announced. In 2008 a SADC tribunal ruled in favour of 78 white farmers fighting against seizure of their land by President Robert Mugabe's government. But the ruling has been ignored, with Zimbabwe challenging its legitimacy.

"They (SADC leaders), among other things, agreed to give themselves a period of six months in which to review and address the stand-off between the government of Zimbabwe and the regional tribunal," deputy president Kgalame Motlanthe said. "We hope that within this six months an amicable solution will be found to this problem," Motlanthe said. He did not elaborate on what action SADC would take if Mugabe had not relented in six months' time.

Critics accuse African leaders of taking a soft stance on Mugabe, who has presided over the economic collapse of his country, sparked by what critics say was his policy to seize white-owned farms for redistribution.

In the meantime, Zimbabwe’s President has reacted to the SADC-deadline. Commercial farmers could appeal to any court - regional or international - but they would never reverse land reform, he said. Addressing hundreds of mourners at the burial of liberation war hero Cde Reward Marufu, the President said „efforts by some white farmers to use the improperly constituted SADC- Tribunal“ would not yield any results as long as Zimbabweans remained united in defence of the country's sovereignty and hard earned independence, as the state owned Newspaper The Herald reported.

President Mugabe urged Zimbabweans to be united in defence of the country's heritage and natural resources. He warned some farmers against being used by former commercial farmers as they risked losing the land to the State. (The Herald)

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