South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal has thrown out an appeal by the Zimbabwean government against an attachment of its property in Cape Town.
The issue emanated from a SADC tribunal hearing which resulted in the enforcement of a a ruling made in 2008 in which a white farmer, Mike Campbell, took the Zimbabwe government to the court to seek relief, claiming that his family had been targeted in the land resettlement exercise.
The tribunal which has since been disbanded and reconstituted resolved that the land resettlement exercise was illegal and racist. Because of that, Zimbabwe pulled out of the tribunal and mounting pressure on it from member states has now relegated it to an organ which resolves disputes member states. It now bars individuals and companies from approaching it.
In the grand scheme of things, it is not clear what this means given that a ruling from a disbanded body with no jurisdiction has been upheld. It will also be curious to see if this will see the summary attachment of properties all over Southern Africa if this is seen as a precedent.
Zimbabwe’s argument that the tribunal was not ratified by a majority of member states and therefore not domesticated was irrelevant. The court decided the protocol alone was enough to establish jurisdiction.
No doubt this will result in screams from Harare about interference in a member state’s affairs. Whatever happens, this story has still got legs for miles.