Takunda Maodza Senior Reporter
ZIMBABWE’S European Union sanctions lawsuit is likely to be heard in Brussels, Belgium, by the end of this month or early October amid reports that financial challenges are threatening to scuttle the court case.The Herald is also reliably informed that US$5 million is required for the case to be heard before the General Court of European Court of Justice.
The sanctions, which were imposed at the behest of the MDC, are estimated to have cost Zimbabwe over US$42 billion in potential revenue over the past 13 years.
Said a source: “There are indications that the case is likely to be heard this autumn, but it is facing financial hurdles. An estimated US$5 million is required to mount the legal challenge, but there has been no zeal to mobilise the funds and time is fast running out.”
The challenge is being led by a team of lawyers comprising Mr David Vaughan, Mr Maya Lester Robin Loof and Zimbabwean lawyers Mr Farai Mutamangira and Mr Gerald Mlotshwa.
The bloc’s illegal sanctions regime was imposed in violation of the Cotonou Agreement that governs relations between the EU and African Caribbean and Pacific countries.
Besides disregarding its own regulations, the bloc also contravened international law when it imposed the sanctions in 2002 and continued to extend them outside the purview of the UN.
Over two million Zimbabweans signed the National Anti-Sanctions Petition which was launched by President Mugabe in April 2011 and Government used the petition in regional and international forums to lobby for the lifting of the decade-old Western embargo.
Outgoing Finance Minister Tendai Biti (MDC-T) was reluctant to fund the suit, but a Zanu-PF Government is expected to take the case head on once a new Cabinet has been sworn in.
President Mugabe is expected to swear in the new Cabinet anytime soon.
“The lack of practical support during the tenure of the inclusive Government was a major setback, but with a Zanu-PF Government in office, that problem should be a thing of the past,” added the source.
Attorney-General Mr Johannes Tomana yesterday said he was hopeful the new Government would source the required funds on time.
“I hope that this time around there is going to be more focused attention to actively pursue the legal sanction challenge both within the country and internationally,” he said.
Zanu-PF spokesperson Cde Rugare Gumbo yesterday said there were greater chances of Government fully funding the case unlike before when the MDC-T frustrated every effort to have the case heard.
“The Attorney-General would know better about that case, but obviously now that we are going to have a Zanu – PF Government people responsible for finance will have to look into their coffers to see what can be done or to find ways to generate funds to finance the project,” he said.
Last month President Mugabe said Zimbabwe was fed up with ill – treatment by Western nations and will soon hit back by placing sanctions on Western companies operating in the country. Addressing mourners at the burial of national hero Retired Air Commodore Mike Tichafa Karakadzai at the National Heroes Acre, President Mugabe said the country was fast losing its patience.
“They should not continue to harass us – the British and Americans,” he said. “We are treating their people well here. There will come a time when we also lose our patience.
“We have not done anything to their companies here. The British have several companies in this country and we have not imposed any controls, any sanctions against them. Time will come when we will say, well, tit for tat. You hit me, I hit you. You impose this on me, I impose this on you.”
Trinity Engineering founder and CEO Senator Aguy Georgias was the first to challenge the EU sanctions in court and his case is still pending at the General Court of the European Union where he seeks damages against the European Commission and the Council of the European Union.
Sen Georgias yesterday said there were no latest developments on his court case.
“There is nothing new; the case is still pending in the courts. We cannot amalgamate the cases with Government because we have different evidence.”
Cde Georgias, who is being represented by United Kingdom lawyers, said he had been funding himself for all along and refused to disclose how much he had spent.
“I have been funding myself all along. Government said it would help me but up to now nothing has happened,” he said.