The United States has slapped sanctions on controversial Attorney General (AG) Johannes Tomana, who attracted regional and international condemnation when he publicly declared himself a Zanu PF supporter, for his alleged role in undermining democracy, rule of law and respect for human and property rights in Zimbabwe.
The punitive measures against Tomana, an outstanding issue to the Global Political Agreement (GPA), were imposed on Tuesday a few days after President Robert Mugabe warned Zimbabwe would hit back at the Western powers over their relentless efforts to make him loosen his continued grip on power.
The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (Ofac) announced it had designated Tomana according to Executive Order 13469, which targets, among others, senior officials of the government of Zimbabwe and persons “who have engaged in actions or policies to undermine Zimbabwe’s democratic processes or institutions”.
The US accused Tomana of selectively prosecuting political opponents and their perceived supporters in an effort to scuttle Zimbabwe’s democratic processes and institutions, an accusation the AG has since refuted, saying he was simply a public servant exercising the mandate bestowed upon him by President Mugabe.
“As a result of today’s designation, US persons are prohibited from engaging in transactions with (Johannes) Tomana, and any assets he holds under US jurisdiction are frozen,” said Ofac director Adam Szubin.
“Johannes Tomana’s targeting of selected political opponents threatens the rule of law in Zimbabwe, harms the integrity of the Government of National Unity and counters the will of Zimbabwean people, who have expressed their desire to build a democratic political system.”
But President Mugabe has maintained the sanctions, slapped on him and about 200 members of his inner cabal were not targeted but aimed at inflicting pain on ordinary Zimbabweans to incite them to rebel against his party.
The octogenarian told delegates at the Zanu PF’s conference in Mutare last week Zimbabwe would retaliate viciously by taking over business interests belonging to Western countries that have imposed sanctions on him and his lieutenants.
The 86-year-old former guerilla leader said he would even go further and refuse to accept investment from countries that have slapped sanctions on Zimbabwe.
However, his threats seem to have fallen on deaf ears as the US went ahead to slap sanctions on the government’s top prosecutor Tomana.
Tomana was not available for comment on Wednedsday.
Formerly Zimbabwe’s Deputy Attorney General, Tomana was appointed to the position of Attorney General by President Mugabe in December 2008 replacing now High Court judge Justice Bharat Patel who was the acting AG after the incumbent Sobusa Gula-Ndebele was shown the door for alleged misconduct.
His appointment was before the signing of the GPA between the Zanu PF and the two MDC leaders Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara in September 2008.
President Mugabe has accused the US of pursuing a regime change agenda and of being determined to impose a “puppet” as Zimbabwe’s leader claiming the West and its allies want to reverse the land reform programme which took off to a chaotic and bloody start in 2000.