Anti-sanctions activist Mr Gregory C Turner, who in 2015 was sentenced to 15 months in prison in the United States for lobbying for the unconditional removal of sanctions has died.
After his unjust imprisonment, Mr Turner, an American citizen, relocated to Zimbabwe and remained a strident critic of the illegal and amoral sanctions that have over the last two decades bled the country of billions of dollars.
He passed away yesterday at St Anne’s Hospital in Harare due to Covid-19-related complications. He was 81.
In her condolence message, Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Monica Mutsvangwa said the death of Mr Turner is a painful loss to the people of Zimbabwe.
“Greg Turner loved Zimbabwe most dearly. He was vehemently opposed to the ZIDERA (Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act) sanctions against Zimbabwe. He viewed them as a bloat and assault at the core of existence and well-being of Zimbabwe, Africa and its Diaspora.
“He took his fight against ZIDERA right into the American Black Congressional ranks. He actually organised a delegation of Chicago-based Civil Rights luminaries to Zimbabwe in the early 1990s,” she said.
Because of his efforts in fighting for the removal of sanctions, Mr Turner , who hailed from Chicago, was found guilty by a federal jury of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.
In addition his co-defendant, Prince Asiel Ben Israel, also of Chicago, who was sentenced to seven months in prison after pleading guilty to violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
“For his efforts he incurred the wrath of the American Federal Bureau of Investigation. They shadowed him in cahoots with G40 cohorts.
“They snooped on him leading to his arrest, trial and sentencing in an Illinois Federal Court for lobbying activities that broke the ZIDERA statute. He was subsequently incarcerated for two years.
“On release he relocated to Zimbabwe, where the Zanu-PF party and the Zimbabwe Government welcomed him with open arms.
Until his death Mr Turner tapped into his lifelong Pan-African activism and extensive continental reach to build bridges between Africa and its Diaspora.
Mr Turner, working with Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa and her deputy Kindness Paradza, recently invited the Grammy Award winning musician, Robert “Kool” Bell to Zimbabwe to help market Victoria Falls as a tourist resort.
The invitation was also meant to promote young Zimbabwean music talent.
He was also actively working with Ambassador Kwame Muzawazi of the Institute of African Knowledge and Museum of African Liberation.
He secured a section in the museum for the story of TransAtlantic slave trade and the 1960s civil rights movement.