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Zimbabwean High Court Rules In Favor Of White Farmer - 2002-08-08

A Zimbabwean high court has blocked the government from taking over the land of a white farmer, ruling that he did not receive the proper notification of acquisition.

The case involves a farm that is part of Tengwe Estates, the Fumera Estate Farm, owned by Andrew Kocket. But it’s not clear at this time whether the court ruling will affect the thousands of other white farmers who’ve been ordered to leave their land by midnight local time (22 UTC).

Many farmers say they plan to leave anyway because they are afraid they will be harmed by the armed militants who are occupying their land, led by veterans of Zimbabwe's war for independence.

The forced evictions are part of Zimbabwe's fast-track land reform program aimed at ending the inequitable land distribution left over from the colonial era. Whites make up less than one percent of the population but the government says they own 70 percent of the best farmland. The government wants to redistribute essentially all white-owned farms in the country to landless blacks.

The process has been controversial from the start. Courts have repeatedly ordered the government to end the violent farm occupations and restore law and order to the land-reform program. But the government has largely ignored those earlier court decisions.

Mr. Kockett’s attorney, Roland Barreto, spoke to VOA English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the case from Harare. He says the court said the “order of acquisition was null and void…because of the failure acquiring authority to service the preliminary notice of acquisition on the holder.”