Namibia yet to sign revised SADC Tribunal Protocol

20 Aug 2015 10:20am
By Maggy Thomas
GABORONE, 20 AUG (NAMPA) - Namibia is yet to sign the revised Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal protocol.
The tribunal, which has been renamed the SADC Administrative Tribunal (SADCAT) protocol, was signed by nine Heads of State and Governments on Tuesday during the closing ceremony of the SADC Summit in Gaborone, Botswana.
In an interview with Nampa, Deputy Prime Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, who is also Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, said Namibia will sign the protocol in due course.
“The protocol is open to be signed now and Namibia will sign in due course,” she told this news agency immediately after the closure of the 35th SADC Summit.
She indicated that Namibia could not sign because President Hage Geingob, who is supposed to append his signature and commit the country to the SADC legal instrument, left before the closure of the summit for other important commitments back in Namibia.
The SADCAT’s office is in Windhoek, Namibia.
It was established by the protocol on the tribunal, which was signed in Windhoek during the 2000 Ordinary Summit, and was officially established on 18 August 2005 in Gaborone.
In 2012, the SADC Summit suspended the work of the tribunal and resolved that a new protocol should be renegotiated.
The revised tribunal will only have jurisdiction on the interpretation of the SADC Treaties and Protocols.
It will no longer handle cases involving countries or individuals, Botswana’s President Seretse Khama Ian Khama said during a media conference immediately after the closure of the 35th SADC Summit. Khama during the summit took over the chairmanship of SADC from President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.
The revised protocol removed access to the tribunal for individuals, and it will no longer handle cases between countries.
This means the revised SADCAT is no longer a court of justice, but a legal institution for the interpretation of treaties and protocols of SADC.
After several rulings against the Zimbabwean Government, the Tribunal was de facto suspended at the 2010 SADC Summit.
On 17 August 2012 in Maputo, Mozambique, the SADC Summit addressed the issue of the suspended SADC Tribunal.
That SADC Summit resolved that a new tribunal should be negotiated and that its mandate should be confined to the interpretation of SADC treaties and protocols relating to disputes between member states.
A coalition of southern African human rights organisations, the Coalition for an Effective SADC Tribunal, has called on heads of state to uphold the rule of law and human rights in the region by reinstating the old SADC Tribunal.
During the summit, the coalition indicated in a statement that contrary to the SADC Treaty of which Article 23 says decisions concerning the community and any affected persons or citizens must be made in consultation with them, the SADC Heads of State adopted a new Protocol on the SADC Tribunal without any consultation.
The SADC did not act in accordance with its own treaty's amendment procedures. As such, the suspension lacks legality, amongst other things because the SADC Treaty does not allow for suspension.
“We urge each SADC head of state to consider the merits of the SADC Tribunal in its original form and the positive impact it will have in the region - socially, economically and in terms of international best practice,” the coalition said.