Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Malaysia expresses anger over seizure of Zim farm

Malaysia expresses anger over seizure of Zim farm

By Alex Bell
10 March 2010

The Malaysian government has officially protested the seizure of a Malaysian-owned banana plantation in eastern Manicaland, in a move which threatens diplomatic ties between the two countries.


An official from Kuala Lumpur’s embassy in Harare, Mohamad Nizan Mohamad, told journalists that Vice President John Nkomo has been approached on the matter. He said Nkomo has promised to take the matter to Robert Mugabe, a friend of former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.


“The issue of our existing investments and how they have been affected was raised and the response was positive and encouraging,” Mohamad said after meeting Nkomo on Monday. “We were assured by the Vice President that our matter would be taken to the President.”


The property, Fangundu Farm, was seized last year by retired army general and ambassador to Tanzania, Edzai Chimonyo. He was ordered by the High Court to vacate the property by Justice Tedious Karwi, who ruled in January that Chimonyo’s occupation of the plantation was illegal. But Chimonyo has refused to leave the farm, which he said was allocated to him in 2006 under the land ‘reform’ programme.


Fangundu Farm is owned by Matanuska (Pvt) Ltd, a farming entity whose shareholders are Malaysian and Dutch property investors. Their company, Property Route Toute BV, is registered in the Netherlands and recognised and approved as an investor through the Zimbabwe Investment Centre Act. The property is also legally supposed to be protected under a Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA) signed by both Malaysia and Zimbabwe.


The government’s refusal to honour BIPPAs is widespread, with ZANU PF intent on seizing any and all profitable land under the guise of land ‘reform’, including properties belonging to foreign investors. Zimbabwe’s already damaged reputation as a safe investment zone has been further crippled because of the violations of a number of different BIPPAs. A previous one between South Africa and Zimbabwe was completely ignored and a number of South African farmers lost their land in Zimbabwe in the land grab campaign. Zimbabwe is now set face a seizure of its South African assets as compensation for the loss of the South African owned land, after the

Pretoria High Court moved to enforce a landmark regional ruling declaring Zimbabwe’s land reform unlawful.

Meanwhile the House of Assembly last week ratified a new BIPPA signed by Zimbabwe and South African officials last November, in theory making the latest BIPPA enforceable. Both governments have previously argued that they could not offer South African farmers protection from land attacks because the Agreement was not ratified. Deon Theron, the President of the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), expressed doubt that any form of protection would be ensured.

 “Nothing will make a difference until the government demonstrates goodwill towards land owners that their land won’t be seized, and this has not happened at all,” Theron said.


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