Outgoing SADC chair, President Robert Mugabe
The original tribunal enabled citizens of the region to seek legal recourse at the institution after exhausting all national options available.
The Coalition for an Effective SADC Tribunal accused SADC heads of state of unilaterally dissolving the old outfit and introducing a protocol that barred legal persons and individuals from seeking recourse under its jurisdiction.
â€œIn August 2014, contrary to the SADC Treaty of which Article 23 provides that decisions concerning the community and any affected persons or citizens, must be made in consultation with them, the SADC Heads of State adopted a new Protocol on the SADC Tribunal, without any consultation.
â€œThe SADC did not act in accordance with its own Treatyâ€™s amendment procedures. As such the suspension lacks legality, â€œinter aliaâ€
because the SADC Treaty does not allow for suspension.
SADC heads are currently meeting in Gaborone where President Robert Mugabe will hand over the one-year chairmanship of the bloc to Bostwanaâ€™s Ian Khama.
To date the new protocol has been signed by nine member states and needs at least 10 member countries to be adopted.
The dissolution of the tribunal came after a landmark ruling obligated the Zimbabwean government to compensate former white farmers whose land was forcibly taken by government.
The government complained that the tribunal had not been ratified by a required number of member states and should thus be disbanded.
â€œThe Coalition for an effective SADC Tribunal is committed to championing efforts and advocacy to reinstate the Tribunal as it affects every single citizen and person in the region.
â€œThe reinstatement would provide legal recourse to people seeking justice once they have exhausted existing legal remedies at the national level.
â€œThe disbandment of the old tribunal and the adoption of the new Protocol effectively disregards the independence of the judiciary, separation of powers and the rule of law. It also impacts negatively on human rights and business confidence across the region,â€ stated the coalition in a statement.
â€œWe urge each SADC head of state to consider the merits of the SADC Tribunal in its original form and the positive impact it will have in the region – socially, economically and in terms of international best practice,â€ it added.
Coalition members are independent human rights, faith-based and legal organisations from numerous African countries, among them Tanzania, South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Angola, Lesotho, Malawi and the Seychelles, in addition to the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ).
Post published in: Africa News