HomeLocal NewsAnti-sanctions crusades heat up in SA

Anti-sanctions crusades heat up in SA

SYDNEY KAWADZA
THE legal case, in which a South African-based anti-sanctions lobby group is suing United States President Joe Biden over the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zidera), has escalated with two financial institutions, which were cited as respondents indicating their intention to fight the lawsuit.

The lobby group, Zimbabwe Anti-Sanctions Movement (ZASM) dragged the US president, US president of the Senate, treasury secretary, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the chairperson of the US committee on foreign affairs and 10 others to the South African High Court in Johannesburg for unlawful and unilateral sanctions against the country.

Among the institutions cited in the High Court papers, in which lawyer Simba Chitando is leading the legal team, ZASM is suing some leading financial institutions in South Africa to declare the application of sanctions in the neighbouring country’s jurisdiction unlawful, unconstitutional and invalid.

CITIGROUP, cited as the 7th Responded in the lawsuit and FirstRand Bank, (14th Respondent) on February 24, filed their notice of intention to oppose the application at the same courts.

South African financial services institutions have indicated that they are restricted by Zidera in dealing with Zimbabwe.

Chitando said, while Zimbabwe and South Africa were neighbouring countries, the latter was the biggest economy in the region.

“The application of unilateral sanctions on Zimbabwe, according to the report by the United Nations, has damaged the Zimbabwean economy, and ought to be removed. The legal challenge against the application of unilateral United States sanctions has been long overdue,” he said.

“The court proceedings in South Africa are the beginning of international litigation against illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe, its people and all progressive Africans.”

According to ZASM’s founding affidavit, South African financial service providers have deprived Zimbabwean nationals and companies of money or property due to blockages of financial service in compliance with the sanctions.

“The consequences of the decision by many South African financial service providers who elect to comply with the Zimbabwean Sanctions Programme are, but not limited to, the following:

“South African financial service providers, together with many financial service providers throughout the world, face punitive measures from the United States government, and for that reason, they are forced to comply with the unilateral sanctions programme against Zimbabwe,” he said.

On the argument that the sanctions were in violation of international law, the anti-sanctions lobby group said Zidera did not arise from any United Nations General Assembly or UN Security Council resolution.

“South Africa is a member state of the United Nations and is bound by the UN Charter, applicable conventions, and agreements related to the use of economic coercive measures on nation states,” it argues.

“South Africa is also a signatory of the African Free Trade Agreement. Unilateral sanctions imposed by the United States are obviously inconsistent with the provisions of the agreement. South Africa has entered into a Bippa (Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement), which provides for the protection, and promotion, of investments made by Zimbabweans in the Republic.”

ZASM noted that the US sanctions programme was inconsistent with the terms, spirit, and purport of the applicable Bippa between South Africa and Zimbabwe.

In the efficacy of the sought declaratory order, ZASM argues that application of the US sanctions programme on Zimbabwe has a direct and indirect impact on trade between the two countries.

The group said they have locus standi to make the application as its members are directly affected by the sanctions.

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