The Constitutional Court will today hear an application from a group of Zimbabwean farmers who, with the support of AfriForum, dispute the abolition of the SADC tribunal by former president Jacob Zuma and other SADC leaders.
The High Court in Pretoria had found earlier this year that Zuma acted unlawfully and unconstitutionally when he and other heads of state of the Southern African Development Community earlier suspended the proceedings of the SADC tribunal and later completely dissolved the tribunal.
Since the High Court’s finding pertains to a presidential act, it must be ratified by the Constitutional Court. The presidency also decided to appeal against one aspect of the High Court order.
The court application was initially brought by the Law Association of South Africa, and several Zimbabwean farmers who were affected by the land grab process in Zimbabwe, including Ben Freeth and Luke Tembani, later joined the court application.
Ben Freeth is the son-in-law of Mike Campbell, who made history in 2008 through a successful application to the SADC tribunal – which was then located in Windhoek, Namibia – against Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwean government. The tribunal then ruled that the Zimbabwean land reform process was illegal and racist, and ordered that Mugabe should stop it.
In response, Mugabe ignored the interdict by the tribunal and convinced the rest of the SADC leaders to dissolve the tribunal. Through this, the promotion of human rights and the rule of law suffered a tremendous setback.