Zimbabwean Courts and the Land Issue

Zim court decides on first land grab ruling

Zim court decides on first land grab ruling

November 30 2005 at 01:25PM

Harare - A Zimbabwe court has handed down its first decision based on a recent constitutional amendment banning white farmers from legally challenging land grabs, state media said Wednesday.

A High Court in Zimbabwe has allowed three black farmers back onto a farm from which they had been evicted by the white owners, overturning its earlier decision.

The original judgement had been used by the white farm owners to evict the three black occupiers, but now Justice Tendai Uchena has overturned this judgement handed down by a fellow judge, Bharat Patel.

"Uchena clearly stated that resettled people can no longer be evicted as appeared to have been sanctioned by justice Patel," the state-owned daily The Herald reported.

"In the event of any inconsistencies between this order and any other previous orders in this case, this order shall prevail over any such orders," Uchena was quoted as saying.

Zimbabwe's parliament, dominated by President Robert Mugabe's deputies, in August approved a constitutional amendment on state ownership of land, effectively preventing farmers from taking legal recourse.

Some 4 000 cases by white farmers challenging the seizure of their properties were pending in the country's courts. But the cases are soon expected to be scrapped off the court rolls.

Zimbabwe's land reforms which began often violently in 2000 after the rejection in a referendum of a government-sponsored draft constitution, have seen some 4 000 white farmers lose their properties.

The land has been redistributed to landless blacks in a move that the government has said is designed to correct imbalances created by colonial rule, when the majority of prime farmland was owned by some 4 500 whites. - Sapa-AFP