The British government’s admission that it froze non-existent assets purportedly owned by President Mugabe and his inner circle as part of its illegal sanctions has confirmed that the Western country was not honest in its dealings with Zimbabwe.
Zanu-PF spokesperson Cde Rugare Gumbo yesterday said Britain’s admission that there were no assets found belonging to senior party officials vindicated Government’s position that London had no justification to impose illegal sanctions, but was pained by Government’s land reform programme aimed at correcting colonially induced land imbalances.
According to an article published in the Journal of African Studies, 2013 Vol 39 recently, former South African president Thabo Mbeki, revealed that former British Prime Minister Tony Blair admitted that they had failed to identify assets owned by President Mugabe in Europe, but nonetheless proceeded to impose sanctions.
The Journal said Mr Mbeki said Mr Blair had in 2000 exerted pressure on South Africa in a bid to establish a military base to attack Zimbabwe.
President Mugabe is on record insisting that he does not own any properties abroad and challenged the West to confiscate anything they might find, including his “needle”.
Cde Gumbo said they were not surprised by the admission by Mr Blair whom he said was not an honest leader.
“It confirms what we have already said that Blair was a liar,” he said.
“He lied to the world about Zimbabwe the same way he said Sadam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. It merely demonstrates the kind of a person he was, very destructive.”
Renowned Harare lawyer Mr Aston Musunga said one legal recourse available to Zimbabwe and individuals concerned was to sue for defamation after the admission that they had no assets in Europe as initially claimed by Mr Blair.
“What it means is that anyone who was harmed by that statement to the effect that they had assets in Europe when in fact and indeed they did not, can take action against Blair and the British government,” he said.
“In my view, the statement was defamatory. It was a malicious statement.”
Mr Musunga said attempts by the British government to run away from responsibility was untenable.
“Britain cannot distance itself from actions by Blair,” he said. “He was leading a Government and whatever actions he took, it was done collectively, meaning the government of Britain is responsible for whatever Blair did.”
Harare lawyer Mr Terence Hussein said the British government could not deny responsibility from Mr Blair’s actions because there were clear directives to directors of Bretton Woods institutions not to deal with Zimbabwean firms.
“They cannot run away,” he said. “Clear instructions were given to that effect.”
Mr Hussein said one reason why the British government would want to distance itself from Mr Blair’s actions was that some of the decisions were ridiculous and a different government would want to start on a clean slate.
Britain, the European Union, the United States and their allies passed a raft of economic sanctions against Zimbabwe at the turn of the millennium such as travel bans and asset freezes.
The sanctions cut Zimbabwe’s lines of credit from multilateral lending institutions and have seen the US Office of Foreign Assets Control seize millions of dollars in revenue belonging to Zimbabwean companies.
The illegal sanctions regime was estimated to have cost Zimbabwe over US$42 billion in revenue over the past 14 years, prompting Government to launch a lawsuit against the EU to which Britain has failed to make representations.