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SADC Court Backs Zimbabwean White Farmers


A southern African regional court has ruled that a group of white Zimbabwean farmers can keep their land.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) tribunal said Friday that Zimbabwe's fast-track land reform program illegally discriminates against the farmers because of their race. The court, meeting in Namibia, ordered the government do everything it can to protect the farmers' ownership of the land.

Most of the more than 75 farmers who filed the case still have their farms. The court ordered quick compensation for a few of the applicants whose land has already been seized.

There has been no immediate comment from the Zimbabwean government, but reports from the region indicate that the ruling is not likely to be enforced.

The government of President Robert Mugabe began seizing thousands of white-owned farms under its controversial land-reform program in 2000. The land has been redistributed to black Zimbabweans, mainly supporters of the ruling ZANU-PF party.

Many of those who received land have complained that they got little in the way of training or agricultural equipment to help keep the farms successful. The program has decimated Zimbabwe's once-lucrative commercial farming sector.

The SADC tribunal in Windhoek said the land-reform program violates the treaty binding the 15 SADC member states.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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