Saai requests reinstatement of SADC tribunal

The Southern African Agri Initiative (Saai) plans on providing greater momentum to growing legal pressure on the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to reinstate the SADC tribunal. 

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

After 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, President Cyril Ramaphosa withdrew South Africa’s signing of the dissolvement agreement at the 39th SADC conference in Tanzania over the past weekend. Although Saai welcomes this step, it remains tragic that political leaders cannot take moral leadership over universal principles themselves, but must be forced by the courts to do so.

“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,” says Dr Theo de Jager, Saai’s Chairperson of the Board of Directors.

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

SADC’s legal association also appealed strongly for the reinstatement of the tribunal. The conspicuous unlawful dissolvement of the tribunal damaged Southern Africa’s attractiveness as investment destination in a time in which this region could afford it the least.