Johannesburg - The Zimbabwe government lost a Constitutional Court appeal on Thursday against a SADC Tribunal costs order awarded to a group of farmers who challenged the loss of their land.
The court dismissed the Zimbabwe government's appeal against a decision of the Supreme Court of Appeal in the matter.
The farmers' land was expropriated by the Zimbabwe government in terms of that country's land reform policy. The farmers approached the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal for relief and the tribunal decided in their favour.
Zimbabwe failed to comply with its decision. The farmers again approached the tribunal for relief. The tribunal found in their favour and granted a costs order against Zimbabwe. Again Zimbabwe failed to comply.
The farmers approached the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria for the registration and enforcement of the costs order in South Africa.
The court ordered the registration and execution of the costs order against the Zimbabwe government's property in Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Zimbabwe's high court application for the rescission of the order was dismissed.
Zimbabwe appealed unsuccessfully to the SCA and approached the Constitutional Court, which also dismissed its application.
The majority of judges held that the Constitution enjoined South Africa's courts to develop the common law to facilitate the enjoyment of the rights provided for in the Bill of Rights.
The court said Zimbabwe’s agreement to be bound by the Tribunal Protocol, including article 32, constituted an express waiver in terms of section 3(1) of the Immunities Against States Act.
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