The Constitutional Court of South Africa on 27 June held that property of the Government of Zimbabwe could be attached in South Africa to give effect to awards of the region's international law court, the SADC Tribunal, against Zimbabwe.
Chief Justice Mogoeng delivered the judgment dismissing Zimbabwe's appeal against orders in favour of Zimbabwe commercial farmers dispossessed by the land seizure programme. The court held that no member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) could achieve impugnity by raising state sovereignty against the international law obligations (inter alia to uphold the rule of law) each had accepted on accession to the SADC Treaty.
The farmers' legal team was led by Jeremy Gauntlett SC. The team is currently also challenging before the African Commission at Bangul in The Gambia (as a means of access to the African Court at Arusha) the decision by SADC heads of state to suspend access by individuals to the SADC Tribunal. This follows a series of international law awards by the Tribunal against Zimbabwe.
The African Commission has recently rejected procedural objections by certain SADC state respondents, and is now considering the merits. In a significant move last week, South Africa withdrew its opposition to the challenge (although it had supported Zimbabwe's initiative last year to bar the 250 million residents of the region individual access to the Tribunal) and announced that it would abide the ruling'.