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Hon. Chinamasa's attempt to "pull out" of SADC Tribunal futile and unjustifiable
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
September 03, 2009

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Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has been observing with great alarm the repeated contemptuous attacks on the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal by various state representatives since 2008. These have culminated in an article penned by one Mabasa Sasa, reported in The Herald of 2 September 2009 and entitled 'Zim pulls out of SADC Tribunal'.

The article follows ZLHR's disclosure in The Legal Monitor of Monday 31 August 2009 of the falsity of Minister of Justice & Legal Affairs, Patrick Chinamasa's contention that the Republic of Zimbabwe is outside the jurisdiction of the Tribunal and/or that the Tribunal is 'illegal'. Honourable Chinamasa - using the state-controlled and unreformed public media - has repeatedly provided legally and factually incorrect information to the Zimbabwean public and observers further afield as to the legality of the Tribunal vis-à-vis Zimbabwe and, by implication, other SADC Member States.

If the Honourable Minister is being advised by government lawyers from the office of the Attorney General, as is the proper course of business, these individuals are negligently or intentionally misleading the Honourable Minister to make false statement to the general public, and it is clear that he needs new, properly informed, advisors. It would be of even greater concern if such misleading submissions were to be repeated by any member of the Zimbabwean delegation who will attend the upcoming SADC Summit.

According to Minister Chinamasa, the SADC Protocol on the Tribunal ("the Tribunal Protocol") has been ratified by less than two-thirds of the total membership of SADC and, as such, the Tribunal is not validly constituted. He goes on to argue that, consequently, the SADC Tribunal cannot exercise jurisdiction over Zimbabwe or any other SADC Member State.

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