‘Reinstate’ SADC tribunal – farmers’ group

Staff Writer | Aug 22, 2019
The Southern African Agri Initiative (Saai) said it intended backing ‘growing legal pressure’ on the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to reinstate the SADC tribunal so as to counter expropriation threats.

The farmers’ group said it welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s withdrawing South Africa’s signature from the 2011 SADC resolution preventing citizens from holding member States accountable, but said it was a pity politicians had to be compelled to act morally by the courts.

Saai chairperson Dr Theo de Jager noted that Ramaphosa’s action stemmed from ‘damning judgements in the South African High Court and Constitutional Court that former President Jacob Zuma’s support for the dissolvement of the tribunal had been unconstitutional and irrational’.

SADC leaders dissolved the tribunal in 2011 after a number of rulings against the Zimbabwean government, declaring that expropriation without compensation in that country had been illegal and violated the SADC treaty.

De Jager added, welcome as Ramaphosa’s action at the latest SADC meeting at the weekend was, ‘it remains tragic that political leaders cannot take moral leadership over universal principles themselves, but must be forced by the courts to do so’.

He said Saai ‘plans on providing greater momentum to growing legal pressure’ on SADC to ‘reinstate the tribunal’.

‘It is important that organisations from across the spectrum support the reinstatement of the tribunal. The tribunal creates an alternative remedy for individuals where conflicts with the state arise. In the context of expropriation without compensation, this strategy will certainly be a strategy to follow.’

He said the High Court in Tanzania ‘delivered a similar ruling in June and condemned the Tanzanian government’s support to dissolve the tribunal’. 

He added that the ‘unlawful’ dissolution of the tribunal ‘damaged Southern Africa’s attractiveness as an investment destination’ at a time when the region could least afford it.


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