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Zimbabwe Peoples Economic Justice Tribunal
Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development(ZIMCODD)
October 10, 2003

In the Zimbabwe Peoples Economic Justice Tribunal
Held at Harare Gardens
On Friday 10 October 2003
In the matter between:

The Peoples of Zimbabwe
The Bretton Wood Institutions (International Monetary Fund, World Bank and World Trade Organization)
Transnational Banks and Private Individuals
Government of Zimbabwe

In arriving at the verdict, the tribunal took into account the fact that economic, social and cultural rights are as important in society as civil and political rights. In particular, the tribunal adhered to the principle of the universality of human rights in the world. Further, the tribunal also acknowledged that rights are interdependent, inter-related and indivisible and that the principal responsibility to ensure the general enjoyment of rights in Zimbabwe is the responsibility of the government and those international institutions that enter into multi-lateral and bi-lateral agreements with the government of Zimbabwe on economic development issues.

Given the scope of the evidence, documentation, and testimony provided during the Zimbabwe Economic Justice Tribunal, the verdict recognized that, besides being un-payable, the debt is also illegitimate and justly immoral. As well, the debt was understood as an ethical, social, political, and environmental problem. The explicit role of the Bretton Woods Institutions and WTO in furthering indebtedness and their imposition of the structural adjustment programs was noted with concern in this matter. Overall, both the external debt and domestic debt was recognized as a permanent violation of economic, social and cultural human rights as established by the Constitution of Zimbabwe, the United Nations Charter as well as other international conventions that the Zimbabwean government has signed and ratified.

In particular, the court found the external debt to be ethically, legally and politically unsustainable. The court ruled that the accused (banks, transnational corporations, government of Zimbabwe, IMF, world Bank, WTO and other financial institutions) were guilty of a wide range of crimes, including upholding un-favorable terms of trade, charging usurious interest rates, carrying out frequent operations, applying structural adjustment, supporting and/or maintaining a dictatorial regime, imposing economic integration programs that favor the interest of transnational companies, breaking international law and committing crimes against humanity.


  • Zimbabwe's external debt is illegitimate and should be immediately repudiated and cancelled.
  • The people of Zimbabwe should be provided with reasonable compensation as appropriate from the defendants.
  • The government of Zimbabwe must do all within its powers, in its international relations, to ensure that banks, financial institutions and other economic agents are curtailed so that the recurrence of the growth of illegitimate debt is foreclosed. In particular;
  • Finance should be understood to be a public good, i.e. a means to promote development and not to make profit.
  • IMF and World Bank should be de-commissioned and any useful role they play should be handed over to more democratically managed international institutions.
  • The government of Zimbabwe must replace neo-liberal economic policies with more pro-people and pro-poor policies. In particular the government of Zimbabwe is strongly advised not to resort to the Bretton Woods Institutions to resolve the current economic social crisis bedeviling the country.
  • Finally, the tribunal encourages the people of Zimbabwe to use supplementary legal procedures, such as petitions, in the International Court of Justice at The Hague, to bring forward individual incidence of violation of individual social and economic rights. In particular the court draws the people's attention to the case of Khulumami Support Group of South Africa versus twenty- two international corporations, (i.e. oil corporations, armaments corporations, financial institutions and industrial concerns) which deals with apartheid caused debt. The issue of apartheid caused debt is not unique to the people of South Africa alone, but affects the peoples of southern Africa. The SADC community is therefore encouraged to participate in the determination of that case.


  • That the parliament of Zimbabwe immediately initiates a transparent process of the sovereign and independent audit of both external and domestic debts in order to verify actual existing debt if any and establish participative and democratic procedures for social control over indebtedness.
  • The court urges the parliament of Zimbabwe to investigate the use of debt by those responsible for generating it in order to take them before the justice system if so warranted.
  • The people of Zimbabwe are encouraged to develop dignity and sovereignty campaigns that will block bi-lateral and multi-lateral agreements that are contrary to peoples social and economic rights.
  • Propose to Southern African Development Community (SADC) governments that they unite around this common cause and do whatever is necessary so as to insure that the international court of justice in the Hague renders a consultative opinion as regards the illegitimacy of debt and about the suspension of all interest payments on the debt.
  • Propose to the government of Zimbabwe that interest payments instead should be used exclusively for sustainable development.
  • The court recommends unity among the citizens present in the forum and all citizens of Zimbabwe (and in the region) to stand in solidarity with the people's cause and jointly realize a campaign for unconditional external debt cancellation.
  • The court urges people of Zimbabwe to apply maximum pressure for their government to comply with this ruling and if this government proves incapable of so doing, make appropriate changes in leadership.

By the Court

  • MP Gyiose, Judge of the Tribunal
  • Jonah Gokova, Judge of the Tribunal
  • Arnold. Tsunga, Judge of the Tribunal

Visit the ZIMCODD fact sheet

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