Political temperatures are rising in Zimbabwe before a crucial summit
of the Southern African Development Community to be held next week in
Kinshasa. The group guaranteed the political agreement signed a year
ago by President Robert Mugabe and MDC leader and now Prime Minister
the run-up to the SADC summit, Zimbabwe's Justice Minister Patrick
Chinamasa ordered the release of about 1,500 jailed women and juvenile
prisoners, 10 percent of the prison population held in appalling
conditions, according to local and international human rights
organizations. Also released were those who are terminally ill.
Those convicted of violent crimes were not released.
has blamed U.S. and EU travel and financial sanctions against Zanu-PF
and a few companies that are close to the party for prison conditions.
Zanu-PF has criticized Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai for failing to get
the restrictions lifted against the inclusive government.
also told the public media Tuesday that Zimbabwe does not recognize
SADC's Tribunal, a court of last resort for the region's citizens.
Chinamasa said that two thirds of member states should ratify the
tribunal for it to have jurisdiction in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe was found guilty of contempt of the Tribunal's ruling last
year that more than 70 white farmers should be left in peace on their
land. The Tribunal's contempt finding was referred to the Kinshasa
South African advocate Jeremy Gauntlett, who
represented the farmers at the tribunal, said Zimbabwe's deputy
attorney general twice confirmed to the tribunal that he accepted its
jurisdiction, and did so a third time in writing.
Director of the International Commission of Jurists, Arnold Tsunga,
said Zimbabwe would have to withdraw from the SADC community of states
if it does not recognize the validity of its organ, the Tribunal.
first farmer to receive protection from the tribunal, Mike Campbell,
had his farm house burned down Sunday according to local reports.
Three days earlier, his son-in-law had his house burned down on the
same farm in central Zimbabwe.
Monday, Mr. Tsvangirai issued a
strong critique of the political agreement. He said state media
continued what he said was a "vicious" campaign promoting "hatred and
acrimony" to bolster the Zanu-PF.
He said there is a "selective"
application of the rule of law, including the persecution and
prosecution of MDC Parliament members, which inflames political
Mr. Tsvangirai said while outstanding issues from the
political agreement remain unresolved, the international community
would not invest in Zimbabwe.
He called for the Southern
African Development Community to decide at the summit when it would
begin the six-month review it had pledged when the inclusive government
was sworn into power.