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By Stanley Gama
Mercury Foreign Service
Zimbabwean police have arrested South African farmer Mike Odendaal on allegations of occupying his farm "illegally" despite his being armed with a court order allowing him to stay and saying invaders of his land are to be moved.
The Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement signed between Zimbabwe and South Africa in 2009 did nothing to stop him losing his farm.
Odendaal was granted a high court order on June 26 allowing him to remain on Wolvedraai Farm in Chipinge after suspected Zanu-PF officials had invaded it.
He was arrested on Thursday and released later without being charged, apparently after intervention by officials from the South African embassy.
Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena could not be reached for comment.
Commercial Farmers Union vice-president Charles Taffs confirmed the arrest. "He (Odendaal) was arrested and released after South African embassy officials intervened, and is now out of the farm looking for a job," he said. "The high court order he has and the agreement were ignored. For three weeks he was not allowed on his farm, and his personal property was looted.
"He was allowed at the farm only on Wednesday and was allowed to collect a few furniture items, but he is missing vehicles and some equipment.
"This clearly shows that the rule of law in this country does not exist because there is a court order and the agreement, yet Odendaal loses his farm. This is no longer a farming issue but an investment issue."
In South Africa, AfriForum condemned the arrest and farm invasion and blasted the South African government.
"It leaves a bitter taste in the mouth when one sees the South African government turns its back on its citizens who are subject to human rights violations in Zimbabwe, while it rolls out the red carpet for Robert Mugabe at the World Cup," said Kallie Kriel, AfriForum chief executive officer.
Afriforum would take legal action against the government for reneging on an undertaking, made a court order in 2009, to protect South Africans' property in Zimbabwe.