United States sanctions on Zimbabwe are so real that United States companies operating in Zimbabwe have to seek permission to sell their products using expensive legal firms to apply on their behalf.
Under the sanctions which came into effect on 7 March 2003, United States citizens and companies are not allowed to trade with companies or Zimbabweans on the sanctions list unless they are authorised or exempted.
Those who breach the law can face fines of not less than $250 000 or twice the amount of the transaction involved.
If convicted they can be fined up to $1 million, or 20 years in jail, or both.
Documents obtained by The Insider from the United States treasury department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control which enforces sanctions on Zimbabwe show that Du Pont, the parent company of Pannar and Pioneer seed companies in Zimbabwe, had to apply to sell its seed through Crowell and Moring and international law firm in Washington DC.
According to the Agricultural Marketing Authority Pannar and Pioneer combined control a third of Zimbabwe’s seed industry with Pioneer owning 23.5 percent of the market share and Pannar 12.3 percent.
Seed Co holds 44.4 percent of the market.
The documents which were obtained through the Freedom of Information Act after a 27-month wait but were heavily censored to “protect sensitive business information”, make it very difficult to establish whether Du Pont wanted to wind-down its operations or merely get a license to sell its seed in Zimbabwe.
When asked for comment, the company said it was “committed to the market in Africa and to developing better yielding products for Zimbabwe’s farmers and enabling sustainable food production globally”.
When told that documents that The Insider had said that the company was seeking authorisation “to engage in activities relating to the wind-down of business operations in Zimbabwe”, Du Pont replied: “Our records do not indicate what you are suggesting. Based on that, we do not comment on speculation or rumor; nor do we provide comment on confidential company matters. …. DuPont is committed to enhance productivity and food security for Zimbabwe.”
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