* Zimbabwe farm seizures were launched over a decade ago
* US-based centre ruled against government
* But most white farmers still get no compensation
HARARE, Jan 4 Zimbabwe's government said on
Friday it will not seize any more foreign-owned farms after
losing multi-million-dollar compensation claims under a treaty
aimed at protecting overseas investments.
President Robert Mugabe started giving white-owned farms to
landless blacks over a decade ago, a policy that had the
unintended result of devastating food output in a country that
had been a regional breadbasket.
An estimated 4,000 farmers were thrown off their land
without compensation and, while efforts to get legal redress in
Zimbabwe failed, some have successfully sued for compensation in
Lands Minister Herbert Murerwa said that lawsuits brought by
foreign investors at the Washington-based International Centre
for Settlement of Investment Disputes had prompted a change in
A group of 40 Dutch farmers won a 25 million euro ($32.74
million) claim there against Zimbabwe in 2009 as their farms
were covered by the Bilateral Investment Promotion and
Protection Agreements (BIPPA).
"We have acquired many BIPPA farms, but we are not going to
be taking any future farms," Murerwa told Reuters.
A policy document tabled by Mugabe's ZANU-PF party at its
annual conference in December showed that out of a total of 153
farms protected by the treaties, 116 farms had already been
seized by the government.
The government had previously promised not to seize farms
protected by BIPPA but continued to evict the farmers, citing
Zimbabwe's constitution which allows authorities to take any
land suitable for farming.
Justice for Agriculture (JAG), a group representing the
dispossessed farmers, was sceptical about the government's
"It's ok to talk, but where is the action? They previously
committed to stop disruptions on the farms but haven't done so.
They have already taken more than two-thirds of BIPPA farms,"
JAG chief executive John Worsley-Worswick told Reuters.
"They just want to create a false perception that they will
now respect property rights in order to attract investment. If
they were sincere, they would have compensated the Dutch farmers
back in 2009, when they undertook to pay within 28 days, but
He said that last month a Dutch farmer was shot and injured
on a BIPPA-protected farm.
($1 = 0.7636 euros)
(Reporting by Nelson Banya; Editing by Ed Stoddard and Robin