The first ever Africa Regional Round of the ELSA Moot Court Competition on WTO Law was held at Wits University between 31 March and 2 April. The topic for the moot involved a complaint by a developed country that a developing country had violated its commitments in terms of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). The measure at issue was a law by the developing country which specified that water and sewage services would be provided by a state-owned company, while (it was alleged) it had made full market access and national treatment commitments in its GATS schedule with regard to these services.
The Rhodes team, consisting of Jamie Foreman, BK Taoana, Deanne McKersie and Oscar McGown-Withers (pictured above), worked tirelessly through their December vacation in order to meet the 10 January deadline for submission of their written submissions for the competition. The team used e-mail and Facebook to communicate between themselves as well as their coach and lecturer, Vicky Heideman, during this time. Closer to the oral round, the team met weekly, and later daily, in the Attic of the Law Faculty where they would take it in turns to present their oral argument and fire questions at the presenter.
This hard work paid off when they managed to impress the panelists enough on the first day of the oral round to go through to the semi-finals, where they came up against a team from Lesotho. Lesotho were a strong team, and we are pleased that they will also be representing Africa in Geneva – the top 3 teams from the Africa Round will compete at the Final Oral Round in Geneva between 13 and 18 May 2014. Our team, however, managed to make it to the final of the Africa Round against a team from Ethiopia. This final was especially tough, as it was open to the public, and our team appeared before 7 panellists (as opposed to 3 in the previous rounds) representing the respondents this time – the more difficult side to represent. After a thorough questioning from this extended panel, our team felt quite battered and exhausted, as well as anxious to know whether we had won the Round or not. This announcement was made later that day after dinner at the Wits Club. Not only did our team successfully win the Africa Regional Round, but Jamie Foreman won best orator in the preliminary rounds, and Oscar McGown-Withers won best orator in the final.