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'Mugabe and the White African' in Context

Southern African Development Community Tribunal

The SADC's original objective was the political liberation of southern Africa, but its mission has grown to one of promoting sustainable and equitable economic growth and socio-economic development for the region.



The Southern African Development Community (SADC) tribunal, the region's highest court, was established as an institution of the SADC in 1992, although it only became operational in August 2005.

The SADC's original objective was the political liberation of southern Africa, but its mission has grown to one of promoting sustainable and equitable economic growth and socio-economic development through efficient productive systems, deeper co-operation and integration, good governance and durable peace and security, so that the southern African region emerges as a competitive and effective player in international relations and the world economy. The SADC currently has a membership of 15 states: Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The SADC tribunal, which sits in Namibia, is one of eight institutions under the umbrella of the SADC. The tribunal has jurisdiction over disputes between SADC states and disputes between persons and member states. A person may only bring a case before the tribunal if he or she has exhausted all other legal avenues in his or her state of residence. Since 2007, five suits have been filed in the tribunal — two contract claims against SADC, a contract claim against Zanzibar and two cases against the government of Zimbabwe, including Campbell v. Republic of Zimbabwe.

In the case of Campbell v. Republic of Zimbabwe, the tribunal determined that the plaintiff's farm was illegally seized by the government and the plaintiffs were owed compensation. The tribunal condemned the seizures as "racist" and as theft on a grand scale. In the course of litigation, the Campbells were issued orders demanding that the government cease expulsions from the farm. The government of Zimbabwe not only did not comply with the cease and desist order, but it also failed to comply with the final decision. Though Zimbabwe is a member of the SADC, it replied that the tribunal has no force and refused to recognize it as a legitimate body of legal authority.

Following Zimbabwe's non-compliance, the SADC effectively shut down the tribunal in May 2011, citing a need to review the tribunal's role and functions.

Photo Caption: Inside the SADC court, Namibia, during the Campbell hearing.;   Credit: Arturi Films Limited

Sources:
» Amnesty International. "SADC Tribunal Struggles for Legitimacy."
» "Mike Campbell." The Telegraph, April 8, 2011
» Southern African Development Community
» Southern Africa Litigation Centre. "For Mugabe's Sake: SADC Leaders Sabotage the SADC Tribunal and Undermine the Rule of Law."



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