South Africans should know that as their government contemplates extending an economic lifeline to Swaziland’s profligate king and court, a South African man is left to rot in Swaziland’s jails.


Last month, Swaziland’s High Court convicted South African, Amos Mbulaheni Mbedzi of sedition, murder, unlawful possession of explosives and immigration offences. The greater injustice is likely that perpetrated by the court against Mbedzi. Read the rest of this entry »


Later this month heads of state and government will gather in New York for the opening of the General Assembly. The theme of the High-Level Meeting for this year is “The Rule of Law at the National and International Levels“. It is hard to imagine how SADC head of state and government will address the assembly on this theme, having so recently presided over the dismantling of the SADC Tribunal. It would be refreshing were they to be frank, admitting that they’re entirely indifferent to the rule of law enterprise: happy to observe the principle when it suits their immediate self-interest; resolutely opposed when it threatens those interests. As it is, we can expect lots of lip-service to a principle that has been honoured recently spectacularly in the breach.

Below, an analysis from SALC’s Nicole Fritz. Read the rest of this entry »

With Joyce Banda assuming the presidency of Malawi, the country has reverted to its old flag — a rising sun — rather than the full sun which former President Bingu wa Mutharika insisted upon. It isn’t a demotion for Malawi: wa Mutharika’s full sun was always grandiose folly. Although the traditional flag of independence, the rising sun seems particularly evocative of Joyce Banda’s presidency: heralding promise and a brighter future. The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute’s (IBAHRI) new report on Malawi titled Rule of Law in Malawi: The Road to Recovery recognises this promise and the reforms that have already been made under President Banda’s administration. But the challenges to rule of law in Malawi are deep and manifold and require systematic reform that won’t happen overnight. In detailing those obstacles and issuing recommendations as to how they might be addressed, the report provides critical reading and comes at a particularly auspicious time.

When Rick Abel titled his seminal account of the legal battles waged against the apartheid state in its last decade “Politics by Other Means“, he meant to convey the strategy and tactics employed by human rights lawyers and those they acted for — churches, trade unions, political activists, liberation movements — in their struggle against apartheid. Of course, it isn’t only those seeking freedom and democracy who recognise law’s potential to advance political agendas. Sadly authoritarian forces are equally savvy — borne out currently in the context of Zimbabwe and persuasively illustrated in the analysis by SALC’s Anneke Meerkotter of Zanu-PF’s objectives in the latest round of constitutional politicking. That analysis is available here and here. An indication of its cogency is that Zimbabwe’s Newsday covered the analysis in its headlines of 10 September 2012 and Bulawayo24’s headlines on 12 September 2012.

On 21 August 2012, the Zambia AIDS Law Research and Advocacy Network (ZARAN) and Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) jointly hosted a strategy workshop with lawyers in Lusaka, Zambia. The key objective of the workshop was to work towards building a pool of lawyers who would be willing to conduct public interest litigation on health‐related rights. The workshop was attended by a range of role-players in the field of public interest litigation in Zambia, including the committees of the Law Association of Zambia, the Ministry of Justice, the University of Lusaka, the International Justice Mission, the YWCA and YMCA, the National Legal Aid Clinic for Women, the Human Rights Commission of Zambia, the National Institute of Public Administration, the Zambia Law Development Commission, Women and Law in Southern Africa and the Legal Aid Board.

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On Monday and Tuesday, the Lesotho Constitutional Court will hear arguments in Masupha v Senior Resident Magistrate for the Subordinate Court of Berea and Others, a case challenging legislation providing only for male succession to chieftainship. As followers of the case will remember, the case was postponed earlier this year and the Constitutional Court consolidated two matters: the first one, a case filed in the Lesotho Magistrate Court between the son of Principal Chief Masupha and his second wife, and Principal Chief Masupha’s younger brother; and the second case, a constitutional challenge filed by Senate Masupha, the first-born daughter and only child of Principal Chief Masupha and his first wife. Both cases will be heard on Monday and Tuesday and arguments will begin at 9:30am.

You can follow live updates from the arguments on SALC’s twitter feed (@Follow_SALC).

For further background on the case, click here.

Internationally, human rights are interpreted as being indivisible, interrelated and applicable to everyone. Unfortunately, this fundamental principle is sometimes forgotten during constitution-making processes, as in the case of rights for LGBTI persons in Zambia.

In April 2012, Zambia published a draft Constitution after a protracted constitution-making process dating as far back as 1972. The last attempt at Constitution-making, produced by the now infamous National Constitutional Conference, failed to get a required two-thirds majority in parliament in 2010. In December 2011, the President Mr Michael Chilufya Sata, appointed a Technical Committee to draft a new Zambian Constitution thereby fulfilling campaign promises of the new Government. The Technical Committee on Drafting the Constitution’s work culminated in the launch of the April draft document. Since then, the draft Constitution has been the subject of further consultations, with the expectation of the release of a final draft Constitution and a Referendum before the end of the year.  This process has not been without hiccups, for example, on 20 August 2012, a group of civil society organisations, the Oasis Forum (comprising the Council of Churches, Law Association, NGO Coordinating Council and Episcopal Conference), released a statement highlighting concerns regarding the transparency of the process.

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La CIJ, SADC LA et SALC exprime leur très profonde déception au regard de la décision prise par le Sommet des Chefs d’Etats et de Gouvernements de la SADC sur le Tribunal de la SADC.

Le Communiqué Final du Sommet relève que les Présidents de la sous-région ont “décidé qu’un nouveau protocole sur le Tribunal soit négocié et que la compétence de ce dernier soit confinée à l’interprétation du Traité de la SADC et aux Protocoles prévoyant le règlement des disputes entre Etats-membres. Cette décision torpille sérieusement un organe à part entière de la SADC – le Tribunal actuellement établi – et prive le peuple de la SADC du droit d’accéder au Tribunal pour obtenir justice.

C’est, comme le fait observer l’Archevêque émérite Desmond Tutu, “une tragédie. C’est un coup portée contre la gouvernance responsable et les droits individuels.”

En particulier, la décision représente: Read the rest of this entry »

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has responded to the SADC Summit’s decision  to deny SADC peoples access to the Tribunal, calling the decision “a tragedy. It is a blow against accountable government and individual rights”.

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), SADC Lawyers Association (SADC LA) and SALC have released a statement detailing the illegality of the Summit’s decision and calling on it to reverse its decision on the Tribunal, heed the advice of its Ministers of Justice and Attorney Generals and the independent consultants it appointed to conduct the review of the Tribunal; lift the suspension of the current Tribunal, ensure its human rights mandate and compel compliance with the Tribunal’s rulings.

The full statement can be found below. Read the rest of this entry »

The SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government, conluded this weekend in Maputo, Mozambique, has effectively thrown the Tribunal on the rubbish heap, resolving that a new protocol for the Tribunal should be negotiated and “its mandate should be confined to interpretation of the SADC Treaty and Protocols relating to disputes between Member States”. That means no individual access will be permitted and SADC’s inhabitants will be denied justice.

The decision — indicated by a small paragraph at the end of the Summit’s final communiqué — is astounding not only because it so clearly violates the rule of law but because it completely disregards the recommendations of SADC’s own review process and those proposed by the Ministers of Justice and Attorney Generals.

See below a press release issued by the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) on the issue. Read the rest of this entry »