Zimbabwe Pulls Out Of SADC Tribunal Over Land Invasions
Ben Freeth, a Zimbabwean farmer from the Chegutu area, is seen here beaten black and blue by Mugabe's thugs in June last year. He and his elderly in-laws had been abducted and then beaten up with the butts of guns to get them to leave their farm so that it could be given to one of Mugabe's high-ranking loyalists, ZANU PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira. Five months later, Freeth and 78 other farmers from the area won a ruling at the SADC Tribunal in Windhoek barring Mugabe from taking over their farms. Mugabe has now reacted by withdrawing from the Tribunal, as he did with the British Commonwealth. As he, in fact, does whenever things do not go his way.Harare, Zimbabwe, 02 September 2009The government of Morgan Tsvangirai and Robert "The Solution" Mugabe has pulled out the SADC Tribunal, citing the fact that the protocol establishing the Tribunal has not been ratified by the required two-thirds of SADC member states.The letter of withdrawal was written on 7 August, according to local reports.Signed by Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, it says, amongst other things:The purported application of the provisions of the (SADC Tribunal) Protocol on Zimbabwe is a serious violation of international law.There was never any basis upon which the Tribunal could seek or purport to found jurisdiction on Zimbabwe based on the Protocol which has not yet been ratified by two-thirds of the total membership of SADC.As we are unaware of any other basis upon which the Tribunal can exercise jurisdiction over Zimbabwe, we hereby advise that, henceforth, we will not appear before the Tribunal and neither will we respond to any action or suit instituted or be pending against the Republic of Zimbabwe before the Tribunal.For the same reason, any decisions that the Tribunal may have or may make in future against the Republic of Zimbabwe are null and void."With this, it means that the government has now closed off all avenues for Zimbabwe's beleaguered white farmers to seek redress. Mike Campbell and Ben Freeth, who own Mount Carmel Farm in Chegutu, got the Tribunal to rule in their favour when they went there to challenge the legality of the acquisition of their farm.This is the real reason why the Zimbabwe has pulled out. It has nothing to do at all with ratification and all that.If, as ZANU PF are claiming, the Tribunal is not a recognised body within SADC, then who is paying for their operations.In fact, the question was put to them as to why they have been appearing before the SADC Tribunal since 2007 if they do not recognise it. The government lamely replied that they did it out of respect for the SADC Secretariat!!Those who have been following this story since November last year when the Tribunal handed down its ruling in the Chegutu farmers' case will recall how ZANU PF behaved then.The Tribunal said the way Mugabe ran his land acquisition programme was discriminatory because it was racist, targeting as did only white farmers.Of course nothing could have been calculated to incense Mugabe more than such a statement.At first, in reaction to the ruling, Mugabe said the Tribunal had erred because it did not consider what he called the "historical context" of the whole case.He was, of course, referring to the fact that the Tribunal failed to take into account that this was land originally acquired by force by the colonial administrators of the country and parceled out to white people.No one in ZANU PF, it appears, was intelligent enough or knew enough about law to realise that this is an invalid argument before the courts. If someone kills your loved one and you go out and kill that someone or their loved one, the law does not recognise that as a legal defence.You would still be tried for murder.They soon cottoned on and Mugabe and his men, two weeks later, then cottoned on to the idea of justifying their defiance by using legal trickery. Hence the "ratification" argument.That was all by-the-way, because even before this, Mugabe had told a rally that he had no intention of listening to the Tribunal. He said they were interfering in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe.Just as he asks the world to keep its distance while he bashes in the brains of his opponents.This is coming out a day after the home of Ben Freeth and Mike Campbell of Mount Carmel Farm was burnt to the grown by arsonists trying to evict them despite the SADC Tribunal protection they have.And what of Morgan Tsvangirai, the one everyone thought would have a stabilising influence on this gangster crowd at ZANU PF?If he is not telling the world that Mugabe is "indispensable and irreplaceable", he is telling them that the reports of new farm invasions are "exaggerated".Since he is, as he keeps telling us, in charge of policy formulation and implementation, what does he say about this new policy of ignoring regional rulings?While we are at it, you will recall that he told thousands of his supporters in Chinhoyi after he became Prime Minister that there is nothing Mugabe does without his approval.I suppose he approved this cowboy diplomacy against SADC, then.We know what Mugabe is and what he can do.But we expected better of Tsvangirai.