SOUTHERN Africa Development Community (Sadc) member states will this week sign the new Tribunal Protocol to re-establish the bloc’s court of appeal that was disbanded in 2010 after Zimbabwe protested its alleged biased ruling on the land reform programme.
Then the tribunal had ordered the Zimbabwean government to stop its seizure of white-owned farms and compensate the affected farmers.
Since then the bloc has been consulting member states to come up with a new protocol that would be endorsed this week.
The tribunal that was headquartered in Namibia’s capital, Windhoek, had jurisdiction over the following countries: Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
“The new protocol will come into force at the Sadc Summit at Victoria Falls,” a member of the Zimbabwean delegation working on the committee confirmed.
“The tribunal, like other organs of Sadc, will still receive most of its budget support from multilateral institutions,” the source added.
The bloc at the 2012 Maputo summit in its communiqué said: “Sadc leaders resolved that a new Protocol on the Tribunal should be negotiated and its mandate confined to interpretation of the Sadc Treaty and Protocols relating to disputes between Member States.”
The new tribunal thus will be significantly and substantially different to the original which allowed individuals to approach the court with their cases against their governments.
Decisions of the tribunal were final.
The tribunal’s life came to an unexpected halt after Zimbabwean white commercial farmers approached the court to declare the country’s land reform exercise as racist and unconstitutional.
The court ruled in the farmers’ favour and since then the
matter is still pending in South African courts after Zimbabwe refused to comply with the court’s order.
The tribunal had 10 judges, of whom five were regular members who sat on most cases.
Zimbabwe was represented on the bench by Justice Antonia Guvava who has since returned home and joined the Supreme Court bench.