SOUTH Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) has reportedly expressed interest in backing an anti-sanctions lawsuit by Zimbabweans there against US President Joe Biden.
The lawsuit brought by the Zimbabwe Anti-Sanctions Movement (ZAMS) demands that South African courts declare the US sanctions illegal.
Reports from South Africa recently indicate that the ZAMS case could serve as a model for Russia and other countries under sanctions to follow.
Lawyer representing ZAMS, Simba Chitando confirmed the development.
The papers were delivered to Biden and others via the diplomatic pouch of South Africa’s Department of International Relations.
“We await his response,” Chitando said in a statement.
“I can also confirm that a director of ZASM met Bishop Azwihangwi Maumela, who is a member of the ANC’s PEC (Provincial Executive Committee) in Limpopo, and was told that the ANC opposes illegal sanctions against Zimbabwe and is considering joining the court proceedings as a friend of the court.
Chitando recently told South African media that the ZASM movement was seeking funds to fight the case because the respondent banks had hired the most expensive legal guns.
“We certainly have a fight to fight, but with the arrival of the ANC I think we have gained an important ally.”
The President of the United States Senate, the Speaker of the House, the Secretary of the Treasury and several American and South African banking groups are named in the lawsuit with Biden.
The American banks named in the case are Citigroup, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo.
Also mentioned are the South African banks Absa, Standard Bank and FirstRand.
ZASM members have taken the case to the High Court in Gauteng instead of US courts arguing that US sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe since 2001 are enforced by South African financial service providers under the jurisdiction of the High Court. Yard.
They also argued that South Africa is Zimbabwe’s biggest trading partner.
The US sanctions are deemed incompatible with the African Free Trade Agreement, to which South Africa is a signatory, and the Bilateral Agreement for the Promotion and Protection of Investments (Bippa) between South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile, observers in South Africa have said the timing of the trial, as the United States tries to build an international coalition against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, could be fortuitous for Zimbabwe.
In its filings last month, ZASM alleges that South African financial service providers have deprived Zimbabwean nationals and businesses of money or property due to blockades in accordance with sanctions.
“South African financial service providers, as well as many financial service providers around the world, face punitive measures from the US government, and for this reason, they are forced to comply with the program of unilateral sanctions against Zimbabwe,” ZASM said.
The movement also argues that the sanctions were in violation of international law and that Zidera did not stem from any UN General Assembly or UN Security Council resolution.
“South Africa is a member state of the United Nations and is bound by the Charter of the United Nations, applicable conventions and agreements related to the use of coercive economic measures on nation states,” he said. .
The sanctions were introduced in 2001 under the Zimbabwe Democracy and Restoration Act (Zidera) with the aim of restoring order to the country after land invasions and human rights abuses sanctioned by the state.
The sanctions stifled Zimbabwe’s ability to meet its international financial obligations and distorted the country’s balance of payments, which in turn contributed to the currency’s collapse.
A 2019 report from Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade says sanctions are forcing Zimbabwean importers to pay cash up front, while loan inflows to Zimbabwean businesses have plummeted and the country’s agricultural production has plummeted. dropped due to the impossibility of importing agricultural equipment.