By Alex Bell
SW Radio Africa
17 June 2014
ZANU PF has stepped up its efforts in seeking international legitimacy, by trying to secure a court ruling that declares the European Union (EU) targeted restrictive measures as ‘illegal’.
The party’s case against the EU, which it filed in 2012, is finally underway despite the Brussels based leadership bloc already removing the majority of its restrictions against the ZANU PF regime.
Robert Mugabe and his wife are the only two members of the regime who remain targeted with travel and financial restrictions, after the EU removed the bulk of the measures earlier this year. This is in spite of the flawed elections in Zimbabwe last July, as well as a lack of reforms that the EU had previously stipulated were needed before its ‘sanctions’ policy would be reviewed.
ZANU PF’s court case, which got underway at the General Court of the European Union last Tuesday in Luxembourg, now seeks to have the measures declared illegal, with the party arguing that the ‘sanctions’ were imposed without any legal basis. The party’s lawyers are arguing that it was only the UN Security Council that had the power to impose ‘sanctions’ on a member country.
Oral hearing of the case is set to continue for the next two weeks before a decision is handed down later in the year.
Observers say ZANU PF is trying to absolve itself of the financial ruin Zimbabwe is facing, with the party maintaining that international ‘sanctions’ are to blame for the dire state of the economy.
The measures, and those which still remain imposed by Australia and the US, have been repeatedly blamed for Zimbabwe’s current economic crisis despite the fact that it was only individuals and individual entities that were specifically targeted.
Wilbert Mukori, the spokesperson of the Zimbabwe Social Democrats group, said the court case has “no merit.” But he told SW Radio Africa that the EU itself has helped ZANU PF in this legitimacy drive, by actively seeking re-engagement.
“This re-engagement undermines the position of other countries who say that since the rigged elections last year, sanctions should remain,” Mukori said.
He also expressed concern that there is no attempt to hold the ZANU PF regime to account for past atrocities that led to the targeted sanctions being imposed. He said that the selfish interests of some EU member states meant that Mugabe and his “dictatorship” were being allowed to “carry on as normal.”
“The EU is giving the Mugabe regime the encouragement on carry on with human rights abuses and corruption. We have reached a point where corruption is rampant and looting has reached shocking levels. And that is the root cause of the economic collapse,” Mukori said.
Meanwhile, civil society members debated the ‘sanctions’ issue during a think tank discussion on the state of the Zimbabwe’s economy on Tuesday, with some civil leaders saying the targeted measures were “counter productive.”
James Muzondidya from the Zimbabwe Institute argued that the economy cannot be revived if targeted sanctions remain, saying the presence of the measures maintains a view of “instability.” He argued that because the sanctions have been “ineffective in effecting change,” they are “pointless in maintaining.”
The EU Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Aldo Dell’Arricia also gave his opinion on the matter, insisting it was the country’s massive international debt, not ‘sanctions’, that was stopping the government from receiving new loans. He also insisted that the targeted measures imposed by the EU were legal.