Zimbabwe might have to sell assets to pay farmers

The Zimbabwean government could have some of its assets seized and sold off if it doesn’t financially compensate 13 Dutch farmers whose land was seized in 2003 as part of the country’s controversial land reform programme.

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The Zimbabwean government could have some of its assets seized and sold off if it doesn’t financially compensate 13 Dutch farmers whose land was seized in 2003 as part of the country’s controversial land reform programme.
The decision was made in France recently by an arbitration tribunal of the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). The tribunal ruled Zimbabwe breached the Bilateral Investment Treaty between itself and the Netherlands, whereby the 13 farms were supposed to be protected against President Robert Mugabe’s land grabs.
The tribunal, chaired by the former president of the International Court of Justice, Gilbert Guillaume, held that the Zimbabwean government breached the requirement to provide just compensation in the event of expropriation. It ordered the government to pay over £8,2 million (R92,6 million) plus interest to affected farmers.
This money is intended as compensation for the loss of property and movable assets like tractors and vehicles, as well as for the disturbance suffered as a result of the dispossessions.
This judgement could also be enforced by the seizure of Zimbabwe’s assets, such as Air Zimbabwe planes, in any member countries of the World Bank, including the UK.
But whether the judgement will be honoured remains to be seen. Mugabe previously rejected the Southern African Development Community Tribunal ruling which ordered his government to protect the possessions and landownership of 75 farmers. – Peter Mashala