Still no date for Zim lawsuit against EU ‘sanctions’

Still no date for Zim lawsuit against EU ‘sanctions’

Attorney General Johannes Tomana

SW Radio Africa - By Alex Bell

25 October 2013

There is still no date set for ZANU PF’s much anticipated lawsuit against the European Union (EU), with the party suing the Europeans for the targeted, restrictive measures against key individuals in the party.

Attorney General Johannes Tomana, who has led the legal challenge on behalf of the party, said this week that a date for the hearing before the European Court of Justice is expected soon.

“The case is now before the Eighth Chamber (of the General Court of European Court of Justice). The case has been allocated court and what is left is for us to be told of the set down date. That court will advise us of the date,” Tomana said this week.

ZANU PF is suing the EU on the basis that the ‘shopping sanctions’, which only remain in place against a handful of people, including Robert Mugabe, are to blame for significant economic losses.

The case has been over two years in the making, after Tomana in 2011 gave the European bloc a two week ultimatum to pledge a total removal of the measures, or face litigation.

ZANU PF insists that the targeted measures, imposed in reaction to election rigging and human rights abuses, have cost Zimbabwe over $40 billion in ‘lost revenue’.

The EU, out of the all the Western nations that maintain restrictive measures against the Mugabe regime, has made the most significant changes to its list. Earlier this year the bloc moved to drop the majority of individuals and companies named on its list, in a show of good faith, to reward what it called ‘progress’ in the previous unity government.

The bloc then went a step further last month by removing the measures in place against the state run Zimbabwe Mining and Development Corporation (ZMDC). This was done despite reports of serious election irregularities and fears of vote rigging, which supported claims the poll was manipulated to secure a ZANU PF victory.

The measures against the ZMDC meant that Europe could not trade with Zimbabwe’s diamond sector, which human rights groups have said helped finance a parallel government in the country.

It has been claimed that diamond proceeds, generated from the illicit sale of the gems, helped finance ZANU PF’s electoral fraud.

These claims have gone unheeded by the EU, and this weekend the top leadership of the Brussels based Antwerp World Diamond Council is meeting in Harare to discuss a new trading relationship with Zimbabwe.

Emily Armistead, a senior campaigner with Global Witness, said the decision to remove the sanctions against the ZMDC was “premature, and does not fully take into account the concerns about the elections.”