Zim Government Hurls Personal Insults At SADC Tribunal Lawyers

Harare, Zimbabwe, 19 September 2009

In an extraordinary four-page advertisement in the media on Friday, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, who withdrew Zimbabwe from the SADC Tribunal after it ruled against the country in a case brought by white farmers, hurled personal insults at the South African lawyer who questioned the legality of the move.

He also attacked the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum.

The whole advert, four pages of it, appears to have been taken out to make a single point: the document that the Tribunal refers to as establishing it without need for ratification by member states is null and void because it is not the original that President Robert "The Solution" Mugabe signed.

It is a later, amended version, apparently.

But it is the language that is astonishing. Here's a taste:

"Typical of the patronising nature of Mr Gauntlett he misses the point completely."

"Mr Gauntlett is engaging in wishful thinking which he then expects us to accept as law."

"Mr Gauntlett must think we were born yesterday."

"We are not as dull as you would want the public to believe, Mr Gauntlett."

To the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum's own submission stating the pull-out is null and void, the minister also replies:

"You obviously have some work to do before you come to any conclusion."

The Zimbabwe Lawyers For Human Rights are told that "Although you do not fully understand the issues, I acknowledge that you have put in more effort than your two friends."

What is clear is that the government has no intention of backing down from its position that the Tribunal ruling does not apply to it and it has withdrawn and will never be bound by any decisions it takes.


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