EDITORIAL COMMENT: Sanctions – Georgias’ efforts should not go in vain The late national hero Aguy Georgias

WHILE lies run sprints, the truth runs marathons. And for Zimbabwe, the truth has touched the ribbon.

Government has consistently maintained that the economic sanctions regime imposed by the Anglo-Saxon alliance in response to the land reform programme is illegal.

Westerners tried to deodorise the sanctions as travel bans and asset freezes on Zanu-PF officials while MDC-T, for whose benefit the sanctions were imposed, claimed sanctions don’t exist yet the so-called Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act, is there in black and white!

That sanctions were for the opposition’s benefit came out during hearings on the Zdera Bill in 2001, when US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Chester Crocker told US Senators that the sanctions were designed to separate Zimbabweans from President Mugabe and Zanu-PF.

We let him speak: “To separate the Zimbabwean people from Zanu-PF, we have to make the economy scream and I hope you, senators, have the stomach for what we are about to do.” As it turned out the senators had the stomach for the horror they were about to visit on Zimbabwe. And the economy did scream, losing an estimated $42billion in revenue.

Zimbabwe’s lines of credit from all multilateral lending institutions with dealings with the US were cut; industries closed, jobs were lost, savings wiped out, pensions rendered worthless as the Zimdollar crashed, while people died from preventable diseases like cholera and typhoid, among other things.

The US State Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control began intercepting millions of dollars accruing to Zimbabwean companies; further constraining industry. These are among the effects of the illegal sanctions that the founder of the Cuban revolution Fidel Castro, whose country has lived under a US economic blockade for over 50 years, likened to silent atomic bombs.

This is because sanctions are low-intensity warfare. To this end the announcement by UN resident co-ordinator Mr Bishow Parajuli distancing the world body from the sanctions regime is welcome and bids Zimbabwe to act.

Said Mr Parajuli: “The issue of sanctions has nothing to do with the UN because these are not UN sanctions, and this is an issue between Zimbabwe and the specific country, which has imposed restrictive measures. Zimbabwe and those countries that imposed restrictive measures must work it out and this is an issue between member states to discuss.”

Zimbabwe has a legitimate case at international law to challenge these illegal sanctions. The late national hero, Senator Aguy Clement Georgias, showed the way when he took the British government to the European Court challenging the sanctions that constrained him from travelling on business.

In his heads of argument filed on August 21 2007, Sen Georgias argued that the travel ban on Government leaders, on its own was not as significant in terms of impacting the national economy but it was the restrictions on financial resources, access to lines of credit and balance of payments support that had deleterious effects on the economy and caused hardships.

The lawsuit came after Sen Georgias was denied entry into London on May 25 2007 en route to New York where he was to receive an international award for Trinity Engineering. The British immigration authorities argued that they could not allow him entry because he was on the sanctions list. Although Sen Georgias lost the matter in the London Court of Appeal, he appealed to the General Court of the European Union in Luxemburg.

Though his initial appeal was dismissed, it revealed that the EU common position on the travel and financial sanctions on Zimbabwe was not adopted on public policy grounds but foreign policy lines.

He appeal was still to be heard at the time of his death.

We should not let his efforts go in vain.

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