BY HENRY MARETE – A South African court on Wednesday ordered the release of an airbus 220-300 plane belonging to struggling state-run Air Tanzania which had been prevented from taking off from Johannesburg on August 24th following a court injunction.
In reversing an earlier court ruling, and have the impounded plane released after a week’s detention at the Johannesburg airport, the judge further ordered the respondents in the dispute in which a retired farmer is seeking $13m (Ksh.1.3b) in compensation for land compulsorily acquired by the Tanzanian Government in the 1980s, to meet costs of the suit.
The Tanzanian Government does not dispute the farmer’s claim, but argues that South Africa has no jurisdiction to arbitrate the matter.
The plane had been scheduled to fly from the Oliver Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, Tanzania, back to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania when it was seized on court orders secured by the aggrieved farmer.
Air Tanzania is wholly-owned by the Tanzania Government and the plane is valued at roughly the amount claimed by the elderly, Namibia-born farmer, who has asked not to be named, according to Reuters news agency.
Its release will come as a welcome relief to many Tanzanians, some of whom had taken to the streets on August 28th, to protest the move by South African authorities.
It also comes at a time when South Africa is facing backlash and simmering diplomatic tiffs with several other African nations after a fresh wave of xenophobic attacks, mostly targeted at foreigners and foreign-owned businesses rocked the continent’s wealthiest economy early this week.
Already, several African nations have warned their nationals against travelling to South Africa, a number of Presidents have announced their intention to skip this week’s World Economic Forum on Africa being held in South Africa, while Zambia has called off an international football friendly match with the SA national team (Bafana Bafana) that was slated for Saturday.