Zimbabwean Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said Thursday that Zimbabwe will no longer submit to the jurisdiction of the Namibia-based tribunal of the Southern African Development Community in protest of its October ruling that Zimbabwe’s land reform program was racist, discriminatory and illegal.
But Minister of State Gorden Moyo of the Movement for Democratic Change, attached to the office of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, told reporter Sandra Nyaira of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the the cabinet never discussed the country's relationship with the regional tribunal, thus Chinamasa’s announcement has no legal force as such a decision exceeds his mandate.
Chinamasa is a senior official of President Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front or ZANU-PF and generally considered a hardliner in the former ruling party, which entered into a national unity government with the two formations of the MDC in February.
The arrangement has been troubled from the start by frequent disagreements which Southern African leaders are to take up in a summit next week in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The tribunal said Harare could not evict 78 white commercial farmers from their properties and ordered the government to compensate others whose land had already been seized.
Political analyst Farai Maguwu, director of the Center for Research and Development in the eastern city of Mutare, said Chinamasa’s statement suggests that Prime Minister Tsvangirai does not have the decision-making powers he should be exercising in the so-called inclusive government.
Meanwhile, a farmer who appealed to the SADC tribunal, Ben Freeth, said his farmhouse, factory and homes of employees were burned down on Tuesday. The home of his son-in-law, Mike Campbell, a party to the same suit filed in the Windhoek tribunal, was also burned this week in what some see as a warning to other commercial farmers who might be thinking of seeking similar rulings from the court.
Pretoria-based political analyst George Mkhwanazi told reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that ZANU-PF’s move to shrug off the tribunal without consulting its MDC partners signals trouble in the government.