Tsvangirai denies backing Zanu PF pullout from SADC court

HARARE – Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Wednesday denied state media reports that the Council of Ministers has endorsed Zimbabwe’s pull out from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal.

State media reported on Wednesday that the Tsvangira-chaired Council, which met in Harare last week, reached a consensus that Harare should pull out of the SADC Tribunal which in recent months has passed judgments on farm seizures not favourable to President Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF.

But Tsvangirai yesterday, through his spokesman James Maridadi, rubbished the reports, saying Zimbabwe remained fully bound by its international commitments.

“Prime Minister Tsvangirai categorically dismisses reports that the Council of Ministers meeting of 24 September, 2009 chaired by Head of Government Right Honourable Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai endorsed Zimbabwe’s pull out from the SADC Tribunal,” said Maridadi.

“The fact of the matter is that the issue was discussed and it was agreed that further discussions will take place in Cabinet,” he said.

The PM’s spokesman added that when a position is finally arrived at on the SADC Tribunal, the responsible minister – Eric Matinenga, in charge of the Constitutional and Parliamentary Reform portfolio – would make an appropriate announcement.

“The Prime Minister has reiterated that no single minister has the mandate to make a unilateral pronouncement and that Zimbabwe remained bound by all its international commitments, treaties and protocols,” he said.

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa in August wrote to the Windhoek-based SADC Tribunal informing the regional court of Harare’s decision to withdraw from cases brought against the government by former white farmers who lost their properties during Mugabe’s controversial land reform programme.

The government lost the case with the Tribunal declaring the chaotic and often violent land reform programme discriminatory, racist and illegal under the SADC Treaty.

But Chinamasa informed the Tribunal that Harare would recognise its authority only after a protocol establishing the court was ratified by at least two-thirds of the 15-nation bloc’s members as is required under rules and procedures governing the regional grouping. – ZimOnline