Zimbabwe’s new President and US / EU sanctions

Emmerson MnangagwaAfter the 37 year rule of Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe has sworn in Emmerson Mnangagwa as its new President. He is still subject to US sanctions for “undermining democratic processes or institutions in Zimbabwe” (SDN entry here, and OFAC Notice here).

EU sanctions on Mr Mnangagwa (imposed on him for being a member of the Zimbabwean government) were lifted on 20 February 2016, see: Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/218, amending Council Regulation (EC) 314/2004. Maya Lester QC, instructed by Peters & Peters Solicitors, acted in a legal challenge in the EU court in which Mr Mnangagwa & others challenged their inclusion in the EU measures.

USA – Zimbabwe de-listing & CAR designations


OFAC has removed Zimbabwe’s former Minister of Water Resources Munacho Mutezo from its SDN List. Mr Mutezo’s removal follows his expulsion from the ZANU-PF party for supporting Joice Mujuru, former Vice-President who was expelled following accusations that he tried to depose President Mugabe. The circumstances of Mr Mutezo’s de-listing are similar those of Sylvester Nguni in November 2016, another former ZANU-PF member who, like Mr Mutezo, joined the opposition party Zimbabwe People First after his explusion from ZANU-PF (see previous blog).

Central African Republic

OFAC has designated Abdoulaya Hissene and Maxime Mokom under its CAR sanctions for engaging in actions that threaten the peace, security, or stability of the CAR. They are both said to have been involved in failed coup attempts, preventing people from voting, and lethal violence involving civilians and security forces.

EU renews Zimbabwe listings and adds exception to arms embargo

zimbabwe-victoria-falls-1The EU has renewed the listings of the 7 people and 1 entity targeted by its Zimbabwe sanctions for a further year, until 20 February 2018.  Currently the sanctions are suspended in respect of all listed people and entities except for Robert Mugabe, Grace Mugabe, and Zimbabwe Defence Industries. See Council Decision 2017/288 amending Council Decision 2011/101/CFSP and the EU’s notices here and here.

It has also introduced an exception to its arms embargo on Zimbabwe, allowing for the export of certain explosive substances where they are solely for use in Zimbabwe’s civilian mining and infrastructure projects. See Council Regulation 2017/284 amending Council Regulation 314/2004 and Council Decision 2017/288 amending Council Decision 2011/101/CFSP.

OFAC Zimbabwe & narcotics de-listings


OFAC has de-listed Slyvester Nguni, previously a member of President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF political party and former minister who now belongs to opposition party Zimbabwe People First.  He was expelled from ZANU-PF for allegedly supporting Joice Mujuru, another ex-party member who was expelled following accusations that he tried to depose President Mugabe.


OFAC has de-listed 9 people and 3 entities who were designated as SDNs under its anti-narcotics sanctions, and amended the entries for 2 others.

The details are here.

US de-lists several people and entities from Zimbabwe sanctions

OFAC has removed several people and entities from its SDN List, where they were listed under US sanctions on Zimbabwe.  Those de-listed include deceased members of Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF political party, divorced spouses of party officials, and a variety of companies.  Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace remain subject to sanctions, as they do in the EU where sanctions now apply only to them and the arms manufacturer Zimbabwe Defence Industries (see previous blog).

The full details of the changes are here.

OFAC de-lists Omani businessman from Zimbabwe sanctions

OFAC has removed Thamer Al-Shanfari from its SDN List, where he was designated under US sanctions on Zimbabwe.  Al-Shanfari was designated in 2008 for allegedly having close ties to Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his top officials, and for using his company Oryx Natural Resources to enable them to access and derive personal benefit from various mining ventures in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

ECJ rejects Zimbabwe appeal– Tomana & Ors

The European Court of Justice has dismissed an appeal brought by the former Attorney General of Zimbabwe Johannes Tomana and 120 others against the General Court’s decision last year not to annul their listings on the EU’s targeted sanctions on Zimbabwe (see previous blog) – Case C-330/15 P Tomana & Ors v Council [2016].  Since the General Court’s judgment, all of the appellants have been de-listed and most of the EU’s Zimbabwe sanctions have been lifted (see previous blog). Michael O’Kane and Maya Lester QC acted for the appellants.

The appellants had argued that the EU did not have power to include people not connected with the Government.  The ECJ upheld the General Court’s judgment that that was correct, but that everyone on the list was an “associate” of the Government, on a very broad definition of association. The Court said everyone on the list was an associate, because even those whose jobs were unconnected with the Government or who were not even alleged to hold a position connected with the Government were alleged to have committed acts of election violence (in some cases in the distant past) for which the Government should be held responsible.

The Court rejected the argument that the General Court had wrongly failed to treat each application as one that merited separate consideration, and said that the appellants’ arguments relating to the position / conduct of some of the individuals could not be appealed because the General Court was the fact-finder. And although the EU had only notified Mr Tomana, not the other applicants, of their re-listing, that had not prejudiced their rights of defence.

EU court rejects Bredenkamp’s damages claim

The General Court of the EU has rejected an application brought by John Bredenkamp, and 3 companies owned by him, for damages arising from their listing on the EU’s sanctions against Zimbabwe.  A link to the judgment is here; Case T-66/14 Bredenkamp & Ors v Council [2016].

EU institutions are liable to pay damages for unlawful conduct where it has breached EU law in a sufficiently serious way, where actual damage was suffered, and there must have been a causal link between the conduct and the damage suffered.   The court found that Mr Bredenkamp’s inclusion on the EU’s Zimbabwe targeted sanctions list was not unlawful, therefore the applicants were not entitled to damages and were ordered to pay costs. The Court found that the evidence justified Mr Bredenkamp’s listing on the basis that he is a businessman with strong ties to the Government, who had provided financial and other support to the Mugabe regime through his companies.  And that this was a sufficiently clear statement of reasons, with a valid legal basis. Although the Council had not sent them the evidence forming the basis for their designation, the applicants had been given the bulk of the evidence justifying their listings, so this would not (according to the Court) have made any difference to the applicants’ rights of defence.