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'No economic reprieve without respect for property rights'

by Staff reporter
27 Oct 2020 at 07:11hrs | Views
Ben Freeth far right
THE Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Tribunal Rights Watch has warned that Zimbabwe is likely to continue missing out on international lines of credit as long as it does not respect property rights.

In a statement yesterday, Sadc Tribunal Rights Watch spokesperson Ben Freeth said the 2000 fasttrack land reform programme which dispossessed over 4 000 white former commercial farmers of their land was ultra vires section 72 of the Constitution and, therefore, the need to compensate them fairly.

The statement came after the government recently signed the Global Compensation Deed where it pledged to mobilise US$3,5 billion to compensate for improvements made on the seized farms.

The Sadc Tribunal Rights Watch raised alarm after a dispossessed white commercial farmer Mike Campbell took his case to the organisation demanding compensation.

Freeth warned that the country might be blacklisted and would not get financial aid if property rights continue to be disrespected.

"The Sadc Tribunal judgment was final and is binding, and further to that, the judgment has been recognised and domesticated in American law through an amendment to the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zidera) in 2018," Freeth said.

"This means that section 72 of the Constitution needs to conform to the Sadc Tribunal judgment, and this Act has far-reaching consequences on access to finance for Zimbabwe from international financial institutions," he said.

Freeth said if Zimbabwe failed to rectify the issue, the international community would blacklist it as the Sadc Tribunal judgment was domesticated in the US under Zidera.

The judgment was delivered by a panel of 10 judges and Attorney-General Prince Machaya, who was then deputy AttorneyGeneral led the Zimbabwean delegation and admitted that the section was against the Sadc treaty.

"Machaya was clear in admitting publicly and on camera that the land reform programme had been declared illegal as Zimbabwe's Constitution went against the Sadc treaty, the rule of law and human rights," Freeth said.

He said soon after the judgment was handed down at the South African Constitutional Court, a government house in Cape Town was attached with a view to sell it and meet the Sadc Tribunal costs.

Freeth said Zimbabwe would for a long time remain food insecure and financially bankrupt because of its failure to respect property rights.

"As long as property rights remain elusive and the Sadc judgment is treated with contempt by the Zimbabwe government and the Global Compensation Deed, the dire situation that Zimbabweans face will continue to persist," he said.

Source - newsday

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