WINDHOEK – SADC Chairperson Hage Geingob says the Windhoek-based SADC Tribunal was being restructured to avoid interference into domestic affairs of member states, and was not abolished, as is popular belief.
Geingob, the Namibian President who is now chairing SADC, said this while responding to questions by journalists over the status of the tribunal during the post-summit media briefing on Saturday
“It’s going to come back, it will reshape, and will have proper designed parameters. It will have its own goal properly cut out but it will not have a sovereign right,” he said.
The SADC Tribunal is a court and the highest policy institution of the regional body.
Housed in Windhoek, one of the tribunal’s key rulings was when it decided in 2007 and 2008 that the government of Zimbabwe may not evict farmer Mike Campbell from his land, and that farm evictions per Amendment 17 of Zimbabwe’s constitution amount to de facto discrimination against whites.
Following this decision, Zimbabwe pulled out of the SADC Tribunal, challenging its legitimacy. After several judgements ruling against the Zimbabwean government, the tribunal was de facto suspended at the 2010 SADC Summit.
Geingob now says the tribunal will be shaped in a manner that does not violate sovereignty of member states.
“Many people think we just succumb to some pressures from some countries and therefore abolish the court, the court is not abolished, it’s being restructured to come back in a proper form,” he said.
The SADC Tribunal was established by the Protocol on the tribunal, which was signed in Windhoek, Namibia during the 2000 Ordinary Summit, and was officially established on 18 August 2005 in Gaborone, Botswana.
The aim of the court was to ensure adherence to, and proper interpretation of the provisions of the SADC Treaty and subsidiary instruments, and adjudicates upon disputes referred to it.
It consists of appointed judges from member states.
On 17 August 2012 in Maputo, Mozambique, the SADC Summit addressed the issue of the suspended SADC Tribunal.
The SADC Summit resolved that a new tribunal should be negotiated and that its mandate should be confined to interpretation of the SADC Treaty and Protocols relating to disputes between member states.