Sadc Tribunal to resume operations

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The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) has made a preliminary ruling paving the way for the Namibia-based Sadc Tribunal to resume operations following its suspension in May last year.

The latest ruling was made at the ACHPR 11th extraordinary session in Gambia last month.

The human rights body said the move would ensure availability of an accessible court with a human rights protection mandate, capacity to apply international law, and enforce its decisions.

The tribunal is expected to preside over a matter involving Zimbabwean commercial farmers who are contesting compulsory acquisition of their farms under the government’s land reform programme.

They are Ben Freeth (41), formerly of Mount Carmel Farm, the son-in-law of the late Mike Campbell, who initiated the original farm test case with the Sadc Tribunal; and Luke Tembani (75), formerly of Minverwag Farm.

Tembani took his case to the Sadc Tribunal in June 2009 after his farm was sold by Agribank in 2000 without any court hearings.

In August 2009, the Tribunal ruled the repossession and sale of Tembani’s farm to recoup an outstanding loan during a period of soaring interest rates — to which the bank was unable to put an exact figure — was illegal and void.

The Tribune which, between 2007 and 2010, ruled on 20 cases that included disputes between Sadc citizens and their respective governments, was subsequently suspended at the Sadc Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State in Namibia on May 20, 2011, pending review following complaints of partiality by Harare.