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Mugabe Vows To Defy Regional Court In Land Dispute With Former White Farmers

President Mugabe vowed to defy rulings by a regional tribunal saying Harare was pressing ahead with its land reforms to correct colonial land imbalances

President Robert Mugabe has vowed to defy the ruling of the Southern African Development Community tribunal or any International Court concerning Harare’s dispute with former white commercial farmers.

The state controlled Herald newspaper qoutes president Mugabe as telling mourners at the burial of his brother in law, Reward Marufu Sunday in Chivhu, Mashonaland East province, that the aggrieved farmers will never reverse the land reform by appealing to international courts.

The tribunal ruled in November 2008 that the Zimbabwean leader’s controversial land reform programme was discriminatory, racist and illegal under the SADC treaty.

The regional court ordered the Zimbabwe government not to seize land from the 79 farmers who had appealed to the Namibia-based court and said Harare must compensate those it had already evicted from their farms.

SADC is currently reviwing the operations of the tribunal after Harare challenged its legality. Human rights lawyer Dewa Mavhinga told VOA's that Mr Mugabe’s remarks show that he does not respect the rule of law.

Mr Mugabe meanwhile has threatened threatened to confiscate land from indigenous black farmers who are leasing out to former white owners, tracts of land allocated to them by government.

Speaking Sunday, Mr. Mugabe said black land holders unable to utilize farms given to them under the land reform, should hand them back to the state instead of leasing them to former white commercial farmers.

He said government was pressing ahead with land reforms, initiated by his former ruling ZANU-PF government in early 2000 to correct colonial land imbalances.

"Those (black farmers) who cannot put their farms to good use should surrender them back to government," state media quoted Mr Mugabe as saying.

Commercial Farmers Union Vice President Deon Theron confirmed to VOA that some beneficiaries of the land reform program are leasing out their land to white farmers because they have no capacity to engage in productive farming.