Protection of South African Citizens, Properties and Companies in Zimbabwe

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

FOR WRITTEN REPLY

QUESTION NO 127

PUBLISHED IN THE INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER NO 3 OF 4 JUNE 2004

MR DHM GIBSON TO ASK THE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS:

(1) Whether the Government has taken any steps to protect the property rights of a certain South African citizen with agricultural interests in Zimbabwe (name furnished); if not, why not; if so, what steps;

(2) Whether she has taken any steps to fulfil her commitment given in March 2002 that the Government will ensure the safety and security of all its citizens, as well as South African-owned companies, in Zimbabwe; if not, why not; if so, what steps;

(3) What future steps will the Government take to ensure the protection of not only the abovementioned person's property rights, but also those of all South African citizens and companies in Zimbabwe? N159E

REPLY:

Question 1

Whether the Government has taken any steps to protect the property rights of a certain South African citizen with agricultural interests in Zimbabwe ( name furnished ) if not, why not, if so, what steps;

Response

Yes, the South African Government has taken steps to protect the property rights of South African citizens. The Department is constantly engaging the Government of Zimbabwe through diplomatic channels. At the same time the Mission in Harare continues to monitor the situation pertaining to the South African property owners and does provide appropriate advice thereof in its interaction with them.

The Mission Harare held a meeting with the Permanent Secretary of Justice Mr Mangota, to amongst other issues, ask that the case be postponed until ''the bilateral negotiations" between South Africa and Zimbabwe are completed. Mr Mangota, amongst other issues, asked that the names of the accused in the Mwenezi court case, accused of failing to vacate designated farms in terms of Sect 9 (b) of the Land Acquisition Act, be forwarded to his office. This resulted in the following: On 27 April 2004, when the Mwenezi accused made their appearance the case was remanded to 27 May 2004. The case was removed from the Mwenezi District court to a Superior Court, the Masvingo Magistrate Court. The presiding Magistrate gave the accused favourable bail conditions which permitted them to remain on their properties until the case was finalised. This Magistrate was viewed by the farmers as a cooperative Magistrate. A withdrawal of the charges would have pressured the farmers to leave their properties.

On 27 May 2004 the Mwenezi accused made their appearance at the Masvingo Magistrate Court. During consultations between the Magistrate and the farmers, the Mission was invited by the Magistrate and it emerged that the senior Masvingo Magistrate had earlier agreed to a three months remand of the case, but following instructions by the Provincial authorities in Gweru the remand was reduced to one -and -a half- months. According to these instructions, Gweru would in the meantime study each case. Consequently, the hearing was remanded to 5 July 2004 at the same court.

Questions 2

Whether she has taken any steps to fufill her commitment given in March 2002 that the Government will ensure the safety and security of all citizens, as well as South African owned companies, in Zimbabwe, if not why not, if so what steps:

Response

Yes, the Minister has taken steps to fulfill her commitment given in March 2002. Under the guidance of the Minister, the then High Commission and now Embassy has and is constantly engaging the Zimbabwean Government in an effort to ensure the safety and security of all South African citizens and their properties.

Among the steps taken are the recommendations made to our Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to discuss and conclude with their Zimbabwean counterparts the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement. BIPPA has been concluded and now awaits signature by the our Minister of Trade and Industry and his Zimbabwean counterpart.

Question 3

What future steps will the Government take to ensure that the protection of not only the above-mentioned person's property rights, but also those of all South Africans citizens and companies?

Response

The future steps that the Government will take to ensure the protection of the property rights of South African citizens with agricultural interests and those of citizens who own property and companies in Zimbabwe is through the signing of the Bi-lateral Investment Protection of Property Agreement. Our Department of Trade and Industry and their Zimbabwean counterparts have concluded discussions on the agreement. The agreement is awaiting signature by the Ministers of both governments once the calendars of the Ministers permit.

The Zimbabwean government has also indicated that properties belonging to nationals from SADC member-states would be de-listed and that a Cabinet Task Team had been established to develop a policy framework within which properties of foreign investors, including South Africans, would be resolved.

Appreciation has been expressed by the Zimbabwean for the critical role South Africa is playing towards the resolution of the political and economic difficulties facing Zimbabwe and that it was important that Zimbabwe reciprocate and assist South African nationals in Zimbabwe.


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