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Zimbabwe Halts Farm Invasions

Food Production
The government, stung by a string of loses in international courts and drying of foreign direct investment, has halted invasions of the few remaining white-owned farms protected by bilateral treaties.

Cabinet has also tasked Finance Minister Tendai Biti to raise $33 million to compensate 40 Dutch farmers who successfully sued government for damages after their farms protected by bilateral treaties were acquired under the land reform exercise.

The Dutch farmers took their grievances to the International Court for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

ICSID operates under the institutional framework of the World Bank group in Washington.

A document produced by the Lands Ministry says Harare forcibly took 116 of the 153 farms covered by Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (BIPPAs).

Lands Minister Herbert Murerwa confirmed to VOA Studio 7 that government has indeed put on ice the invasions.

At its recent annual conference, Zanu PF also resolved to halt the invasions of farms protected by BIPPAs.

Lawyer Trust Maanda, who has represented some of the protected farms, says Harare must adhere to agreements it signed with other nations.

Meanwhile, as the European Union prepares to discuss whether to lift targetted sanctions imposed on Harare next month, Zanu PF has accused its coalition partners of encouraging the economic block to continue with the restrictions.

Although as part of the Global Political Agreement signed in 2008 all parties agreed to call for the lifting of the sanctions, the EU has all along insisted that the measures would remain intact as long as Zanu PF did not respect the rule of law.

Zanu PF secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa, told the state-controlled Herald newspaper that the EU’s Brussels meeting next month is not likely to remove the sanctions as long as Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in not in power.

However, Deputy spokesman, Joel Gabhuza of the MDC faction led by Mr. Tsvangirai, says the party has no power to influence the removal of the sanctions.
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Nhlanhla Dube, spokesman for the MDC faction led by Industry Minister, Welshman Ncube, says the EU will base the continuation or relaxation of the sanctions on the reasons of rule of law that were used in the first place and not influence from political parties.
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