ZIMBABWE will ignore the rulings of South African courts hearing challenges to the country’s reforms by some white former commercial farmers, President Robert Mugabe has said.
More than 4,000 white commercial farmers have lost their farms since 2000 when Zimbabwe launched a land reform programme Mugabe said was needed to address historic imbalances in land distribution as well as economically empower the country’s black majority.
But 78 of the ex-farmers are challenging the process in South Africa’s courts.
However, Mugabe told state media Friday that Zimbabwe would not be bound by the decisions of the courts.
“In South Africa they have certain elements outside the ANC and cannot be controlled by the ANC and these are elements that once upon a time where here and were unseated by us and have realised that in South Africa you can go to court and get judgements,” he said
“But let them have those judgments, we will simply ignore them, South African courts have no jurisdiction over us so we will simply ignore them.”
South Africa's constitutional court reserved judgment on Thursday on whether local courts could enforce rulings made by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) tribunal against Zimbabwe.
The case involves 78 Zimbabwean farmers who lost their farms during the land reforms and successfully petitioned the SADC Tribunal in 2007 for compensation.
Zimbabwean officials ignored two of the tribunal's orders resulting in the farmers approaching the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria to have the orders enforced in South Africa.
The High Court ordered the seizure of several Cape Town properties which were owned by the Zimbabwean government.
Zimbabwe approached the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria to have the ruling revoked. The application was denied. The country then asked the Supreme Court of Appeal to intervene. Their application was again dismissed.
But, in its application to the Constitutional Court, Zimbabwe argued that protocol did not allow for a judgment obtained against Zimbabwe to be enforced in South Africa.
Meanwhile, AfriForum lawyer Willie Spies expressed his satisfaction with the course of the trial.
"If the appeal by Zimbabwe is dismissed, international legal history will be made, as the planned sale will be the first sale in execution of property belonging to a state that had been found guilty of gross human rights violations," he said.
AfriForum has been helping the farmers with their legal action.