Sadc will discuss land grabs — Zuma

CAPE TOWN — President Jacob Zuma and fellow southern African leaders will again be under intense pressure to take action against Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe later this month when they meet to consider a crucial report on his illegal land grabs.

In late 2008, the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Tribunal ruled against Mr Mugabe’s government, insisting unanimously that a group of 79 farmers had been denied access to justice in Zimbabwe and further ruling that they had been discriminated against because they were white. Mr Mugabe and his then government thumbed their noses at the tribunal ruling, saying it had no jurisdiction.

\r\n

Since then Sadc leaders have prevaricated on just what to do about the ruling and Zimbabwe’s refusal to comply.

\r\n

Democratic Alliance MP James Selfe had asked Mr Zuma, in a parliamentary question, what steps the justice ministers and attorneys-general of Sadc states believed should be taken against Mr Mugabe. Mr Zuma’s reply, tabled yesterday, said a report by the ministers and attorneys-general would be discussed at a Sadc leaders’ summit on May 19-20.

\r\n

Mr Zuma’s reply also indicates the degree to which Sadc leaders have dragged their heels on the issue of tribunal rulings. It also shows reluctance to confront Mr Mugabe for his refusal.

\r\n

Mr Zuma said about two years after the 2008 ruling that the Sadc heads of state “mandated the committee of ministers of justice and attorneys-general to consider the legal issues relating to Zimbabwe’s noncompliance with a ruling by the Sadc tribunal and also to conduct a review of the roles and responsibilities of the Sadc Tribunal with a view to strengthening it and improving its terms of reference.

\r\n

“The summit also adopted the recommendation by the committee of ministers of justice and attorneys-general to commission a study which, in addition to covering the above matters, would also deal with the recognition and enforcement of decisions by the Sadc Tribunal.”

\r\n

This effectively suspended the operations of the tribunal.

\r\n

Mr Zuma said that in October Sadc leaders approved a panel of experts to conduct the study. This had now been completed and was considered by the justice ministers and attorneys-general last month.

\r\n

“A report containing recommendations regarding these matters will be presented by the committee of ministers of justice and attorneys-general to a special Sadc Summit of Heads of State and Government to be held on May 19-20 in Windhoek ,” Mr Zuma said.

\r\n

DA parliamentary leader Athol Trollip, commenting on the reply, said: “The saddest thing of all this is that Sadc has undermined itself by not calling a member state to account and that Mike Campbell, the farmer who fought so courageously to win his farm back through the tribunal, has since died”.