Zim deal to face legal test

CIVIL rights group AfriForum will launch a legal challenge against an investment agreement to be signed with Zimbabwe this week, a spokesperson for the group said yesterday.

CIVIL rights group AfriForum will launch a legal challenge against an investment agreement to be signed with Zimbabwe this week, a spokesperson for the group said yesterday.

The agreement, which is to be signed in Harare on Friday, aims to protect current and future investments of South Africans in Zimbabwe, but "expressly excludes" the investments of South African farmers affected by President Robert Mugabe's land programme, AfriForum legal representative Willie Spies said.

"If the signing ceremony were to proceed, an application for an interdict against it will be submitted to the North Gauteng supreme court (high court) in Pretoria on Friday," Spies said.

AfriForum has provided Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies with a legal opinion that the proposed agreement is in contravention of the South African Constitution, several international legal principles and existing court orders of the high court in Pretoria.

The farmers are being represented by Louis Fick, a farmer from Chinoye in the east of Zimbabwe.

Fick is a South African and has been farming in Zimbabwe since 1993.

He was one of 79 farmers who brought a successful legal action at a tribunal of the Southern African Development and Economic Community in November last year.

The tribunal found that Mugabe's land programme was "racist and illegal and had to be terminated", according to Spies. - Sapa

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