Finally, justice for Luke Tembani

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights: Legal Monitor – 8 July 2013

Harare -It is cheers, not only to a successful run of 200 editions of The Legal Monitor, but to a man closely associated with this publication.

Luke Tembani, a pioneering black commercial farmer who turned destitute after the government ignored his right to justice, is finally having some relief – albeit in foreign lands.

Since its very early editions, The Legal Monitor has fought side by side with Tembani in his arduous and often frustrating legal fight for recourse after he was evicted from his farm and ignored by

Today, The Legal Monitor joins Tembani in toasting to two developments in the legal campaign to make sure that the pioneering farmer gets compensation as well as ensure that Zimbabwe is unable to escape its international law obligations.

It had been a long road before the breakthrough recorded in South African courts where Tembani had taken the matter. Despite touting pro-black land reform as its core policy, President Robert Mugabe’s government refused to honour a ruling by the SADC Tribunal restoring Tembani’s rights to a farm he unfairly lost to a State institution.

He lost his Minverwag Farm at Clare Estate Ranch Farm in Nyazura in controversial circumstances, which saw him take up a single room lodging in nearby Rusape town. His children were forced to drop out of the farm school which their father had built using a bank loan.

But Tembani can at least afford a smile now, even though circumstances are still tough. Following a landmark ruling by South Africa’s Constitutional Court, Tembani is now able to attach and auction Zimbabwe government property in South Africa to recover compensation due to him.

The Constitutional Court in South Africa dismissed Harare’s appeal against South African court orders authorising the attachment of Zimbabwean government property in execution of awards by the SADC Tribunal. Tembani won his case at the now defunct SADC Tribunal but Zimbabwe scoffed at him, saying the Tribunal’s rulings had no effect locally. He is finally getting some recourse.

“Lawful judgments are not to be evaded with impunity by any State or person in the global village,” South Africa’s Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said while delivering the ruling late last month.

The Constitutional Court held that South Africa, like Zimbabwe itself, was bound to give effect to awards of the Tribunal. It noted that Zimbabwean farmers had lost their land without compensation
pursuant to an “agrarian reform programme”.

It held that the Tribunal’s jurisdiction was founded on the rule of law, and that the aggrieved farmers had properly had recourse to the Tribunal’s protection.