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Zimbabwe's White Farmers Take Land-Grab Battle To Supreme Court


In a last-ditch effort to recover their properties and livelihoods, five white Zimbabwean farmers have filed papers in the country's supreme court challenging the constitutional amendment passed in 2005 nationalizing all farmland, the Financial Gazette reported.

The farmers have asked the court to overturn section 16B of the Amendment 17 of the Zimbabwean constitution, which came into effect last month.

In his court application filed Tuesday, complainant William Michael Campbell argued that the amendment threatens the ownership of his property, which he bought in 1973, by barring him from pursuing "any investigation, legal proceeding, or remedy,” in the defense of his property rights.

The other four farmers also argued that the Acquisition of Farm Equipment and Material Act is, in legal parlance, ultra vires, or beyond constitutional powers.

The Justice For Agriculture group, which defends displaced farmers, said it is taking a back seat in the action, but is working to ensure due diligence on the part of judges.

JAG chief executive officer John Worsely-Worswick acknowledged to reporter Ndimyake Mwakalye of VOA's Studio 7 For Zimbabwe that the chances of success are slim - but added that the legal case is worth pursuing to put it on the record.

Constitutional law expert Lovemore Madhuku of the University of Zimbabwe, who is the chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly, said the case is a waste of time because whatever its merits, politics in Zimbabwe trumps legal principles.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 For Zimbabwe...