Altogether 25 Zimbabwean farmers and farming businesses have just issued summons on the South African government and the President for almost R2 billion. These farmers suffered damages because of South African government’s complicity in the dissolvement of the Tribunal of the Southern African Development Community (SADEC) a few years ago.
The issuing of summons follows the Constitutional Court’s unanimous ruling on 11 December 2018 that the country’s disastrous former president, Jacob Zuma, had (again) acted unlawfully and unconstitutional by participating in the process to dissolve the SADEC Tribunal.
The SADEC Tribunal found in November 2008 that the Zimbabwean government had acted unlawfully and in a racist manner by confiscating white farmers’ land without compensation. It was also found that the expropriated farmers were entitled to fair compensation for the damages that they had suffered as a result of the confiscation of their properties.
In another ruling in 2009, the Tribunal found that the Zimbabwean government had to return the property of Luke Tembani, a black commercial farmer, which had been declared confiscable by the Zimbabwean Land Bank. Zimbabwe ignored the Tribunal’s finding in this regard as well.
Former President Robert Mugabe then convinced the leaders of all the states in the SADEC region to dissolve the Tribunal. He was actively supported in this regard by former President Jacob Zuma and minister Jeff Radebe.
Minority rights movement AfriForum has been supporting the Zimbabwean farmers since 2009 in their struggle to enforce the findings of the SADEC Tribunal. With the Constitutional Court’s finding that the South African government had acted unlawfully and unconstitutionally, the causa petendi for the damages claim against the South African government was completed.
Luke Tembani and 19 other farmers, together with the companies through which they operated their farming activities, now claim damages that they had suffered at the hands of the South African government.
“We are delighted to be part of the ongoing struggle for justice in Zimbabwe after everyone has suffered so much. We thank God that we have got this far and encourage others to take heart and not give up. We also thank AfriForum for all their help and our amazing legal team for sticking with us and believing in seeking justice when so often all seemed lost,” says Ben Freeth, spokesperson of the Mike Campbell Foundation.