WINDHOEK — All Southern African Development Community (Sadc) member states have reaffirmed their commitment of support to the Sadc Tribunal, Sackey Shangala of the Law Reform and Development Commission has said.
Sadc justice ministers and attorney generals recently met in Luanda, Angola, to discuss the future of the tribunal, which was suspended in August 2010.
Shangala said the ministers have now completed their report on the tribunal, which is to be handed over to the Sadc Council of Ministers and the Sadc summit to be held in August in Maputo, Mozambique.
He said the proposals – in the form of various options still to be discussed by a variety of shareholders – are that the tribunal continues under a different mandate.
Sadc Lawyers Association, the International Commission of Jurists, and the Southern Africa Litigation Centre — made submissions to the ministers’ meeting and asked that they safeguard the tribunal.
These bodies asked the ministers to uphold the rule of law in the region, to ensure access to the court by private individuals, and to strengthen the tribunal’s human rights mandate rather than having that scrapped.
Shangala said the human rights mandate was indeed discussed by the ministers, with all member states holding the view that human rights form an integral part of their domestic judicial system.
Sadc Lawyers Association executive director Makanatsa Makonese was of the view that an effective tribunal would be a huge boost to the region, helping to protect human rights, promote trade and support economic integration.
Opinions were that the tribunal was suspended after Zimbabwe had repeatedly flouted orders made by the regional court.
When Zimbabwe was referred to the Sadc Council of Ministers to determine appropriate action for its non-compliance with the tribunal’s orders, Sadc opted to review the court instead.
“It is not about Zimbabwe,” countered Shangala, who said that there was a deliberate campaign to turn it into a Zimbabwe issue. People must stop thinking that it is because of Zimbabwe,” he insisted.
“It is unfortunate and confusing and sends the wrong message.” — The Namibian