THE Zimbabwean government is suing the European Union (EU) for losses to its economy arising from the bloc’s sanctions on President Robert Mugabe and members of his government.
Its lawsuit has now come before the General Court of the European Court of Justice in Brussels, Belgium. Zimbabwe’s government expects it to announce a date for the case to be heard, once it comes up on the court roster, a top government official has said.
The lawsuit by the Zimbabwean government lays bare any pretence of a thaw in relations between Mr Mugabe’s newly re-elected administration and the EU and is widely seen by observers as a final push by Mr Mugabe to end his isolation by the West.
Attorney-general Johannes Tomana, who is spearheading the legal challenge, said in an interview the announcement of a date by the European court would set in motion Zimbabwe’s case.
Although unwilling to discuss the finer details of the lawsuit, it is understood it is the government’s contention that sanctions imposed by the EU since 2001 have cost the country $42bn in lost revenue.
The antisanctions campaign has been a boost to Mr Mugabe’s political standing, and he has used it to gain sympathy from fellow African nations. In the aftermath of the July 31 election won by Mr Mugabe’s Zanu (PF), the Southern African Development Community called on the EU to rethink its position on the sanctions.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai also questioned the sanctions during its four-year stint in the power-sharing government with Mr Mugabe.
Mr Tomana said the lawsuit would serve as a precedent against US-imposed sanctions, when asked whether Zimbabwe would also sue the US government.
EU representative in Zimbabwe Aldo Dell Ariccia said he did not have any additional information on the case, but was aware of the government’s intention.
“The restrictions are against 10 individuals and one company and not against the whole of Zimbabwe. There is no such thing as sanctions against Zimbabwe .”
He said he expected a “rapid resolution” of the case, which he pointed out would not interfere with Zimbabwe-EU relations.