PRESS RELEASE BY THE LAW SOCIETY OF NAMIBIA
On 5 August 2010 the SADC Lawyers Association issued a press statement, which amongst other things stated the following:
“The SADC Lawyers Association wishes to express its dismay over the continued disregard of SADC Tribunal Rulings by the Government of Zimbabwe. In June 2009, the SADC Lawyers Association issued a statement welcoming the 5 June 2009 ruling of the SADC Tribunal in the case of Mike Campbell and others vs. The Republic of Zimbabwe. In the same statement we urged the SADC Heads of State and Government to be robust and decisive in their treatment of Zimbabwe as they have done with the unelected government of Andri Rajolina in Madagascar.
It is however sad to note that the SADC Heads of State and Government have continued to give the Government of Zimbabwe special treatment and turn a blind eye to its continued disregard of the rule of law and lack of respect for regional institutions. This in turn has given the Government of Zimbabwe the boldness and confidence to continue to trample on and trash the jurisdiction of the SADC Tribunal.
On the 16th of July 2010, the SADC Tribunal issued another ruling confirming that the Government of Zimbabwe was in contempt of the Tribunal’s previous rulings. In response, the Zimbabwean Minister of Justice Patrick Chinamasa stated that the Tribunal “could make as many such judgments as possible” but this would not change the government’s stance on the land issue.
Clearly therefore, the Government of Zimbabwe is not going to abide by the Tribunal rulings on its own free will. We therefore urge the SADC Heads of State and Government at the forthcoming SADC Summit to be held from the 16-18th of August in Windhoek, Namibia to take a principled stand and condemn the actions of the Zimbabwean Government in the interests of regional cohesion and integrity. In particular the Heads of State and Government should urge its member states including Zimbabwe to respect regional institutions which play an important role in defining who we are as a region. Continued silence on the actions of the Zimbabwean authorities will only help to play in the hands of sceptics who doubt the ability of the regional leaders to deal effectively with the Government of Zimbabwe and its leaders.
The attitude of the Zimbabwean authorities makes a mockery of the SADC Tribunal which is supposed to function as part of the system of justice to cement the regional integration efforts of the citizens of SADC. The regional judiciary should be respected and given the appropriate protection from irresponsible statements made by politicians.
Further the SADC Heads of State are urged to ensure that there is finality in the matters referred to the Summit by the SADC Tribunal. The credibility of the SADC Tribunal relies on the collective will and effort of the SADC Heads of State to enforce its decisions. We therefore urge the SADC Heads of State to enforce the decisions of the SADC Tribunal in order to create a predictable and transparent system of regional justice which is crucial for the economic and human development of the SADC region.”
Despite the call for action, the SADC summit has failed to act decisively despite Zimbabwe’s blatant disregard for the rulings of the SADC tribunal. This failure may result in further hardships and human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.
The Law Society of Namibia (LSN) on various occasions has expressed itself and has condemned the ongoing violations of human rights and the disrespect for the rule of law on the part of the Zimbabwean Government.
The Law Society of Namibia, as a member of the SADC Lawyers Association again wishes to place on record our dismay in the failure by the SADC Heads of State to deal with the issues without fear or favour.
The Law Society of Namibia calls upon the Zimbabwean Government and all concerned to honour the Rule of Law. The Law Society also calls upon the SADC Heads of State and Government not to be swayed by Zimbabwe’s manoeuvres which are merely calculated at avoiding their obligations in terms of the SADC Tribunal rulings. We call upon all leaders in the SADC region to stand up to the Zimbabwean Government in order that we may show the rest of the world that, as a region, we respect our regional judicial institution and abide by the Rule of Law.