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Zimbabwean president has ignored a SADC Tribunal for a third time
Mugabe should not be allowed to continue to flout the basic legal principles of SADC
South African government and SADC should be applying pressure on Mugabe, rather than standing idly by
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has shown the Southern African Development Community (SADC) the finger, again. Mr. Mugabe did not even bother to send a respondent to the hearing of the SADC Tribunal held on Friday 16 July 2010, which found the government of Zimbabwe - for the third time - to be in contempt of the Tribunal's ruling to make all possible efforts to return land seized illegally from South African farm owners in Zimbabwe under the pretense of land reform by Mugabe's administration.
The SADC Tribunal is a highly respected body composed of three highly respected Justices: H.E. Justice A.G. Pillay, H.E. Justice I.J. Mtambo SC and H.E. Justice Dr. L.A. Mondlane. Honouring the Tribunal's rulings is a fundamental point of democratic adherence to the rule of law, the honouring of the independence of the judiciary and the legitimacy of SADC. Zimbabwe stands in brazen contempt of SADC of which it is a member state.
The DA last year called on President Jacob Zuma to enforce the Tribunal's ruling on the Zimbabwean government while he was head of the SADC. Zuma however, accomplished nothing. The South African government should reverse its stance, and ought to be doing everything in its power to convince President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo - the incumbent head of SADC - to enforce the ruling. Zuma and Kabila display a pitiful weakness of political leadership when it comes to anything requiring standing up for real principles.
We must also ask ourselves exactly what South Africa's commitment to SADC is. We hear a great deal from the Zuma administration about the need to foster close ties with our neighbours as we supposedly work towards achieving closer economic integration and a proliferation of common values. However, these commitments mean very little if the mechanism through which they are to be achieved, the SADC body, remains nothing more than an opportunity for grand but ultimately empty speeches and promises. Our region needs to find a way to work together and we can only do that if we all play by a mutually agreed set of rules that bear weight. Indeed, if we do not, what is the point? We have the opportunity to lead our neighbours through our example and President Zuma must think long and hard about exactly what role he envisages for our country, if any.
Zimbabwe's behavior affirms the importance of maintaining sanctions, even increasing their severity, and the utter foolishness of our government to support lifting them. Zimbabwe's refusal - for the third time - to adhere to SADC's Tribunal is a confirmation, if any was needed, that Mugabe is a rogue who will do anything to stay in power. He outwits those who have the means to compel him to abide by democratic rules of governance, like South Africa's President Jacob Zuma.