A Zimbabwean government property in Cape Town, ironically on 28 Salisbury Avenue, was auctioned today for R3.76 million to cover legal costs the government owed to a South African human rights organisation Afriforum that had taken up the case of Zimbabwe’s white farmers whose land was taken over by the Zimbabwe’s government under its controversial land reform programme.
According to News24, the three-bedroom, three bathroom house was sold to Arthur Tsimitakopoulos and once he pays the full amount, the money will be split between AfriForum and German Bank KfW which is owed money borrowed by Zimbabwe to bail out the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company.
The sale could sour relations between Harare and Pretoria as Zimbabwe’s ambassador to South Africa, Isaac Moyo, claims the legal fees involved totaling R800 000 were paid on Saturday.
“We are very disappointed by this move to sell our property under the pretense of human rights violations. These are just cheap political arguments. We are also very disappointed that after we had paid them R800 000, the same people went ahead with the auction,” Moyo told the Financial Gazette.
The case itself has been embroiled in a lot of controversy. The Southern African Development Community Tribunal which ruled in 2008 that the way the land reform was carried out was illegal and therefore said the white famers should be given back their land was dissolved after protests from Zimbabwe.
AfriForum stepped in to help the dispossessed Zimbabwean commercial farmers to enforce the ruling through the South African courts.