A group of unnamed businessmen who had been denied entry into the United States under the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act were reportedly planning to challenge the law, according to a report in the Business Tribune.
The paper said the businessmen were arguing that the measures were illegal because they violated a basic human right entrenched in American law- the right to be heard.
ZIDERA was passed by the United States to bring back democracy and the rule of law to Zimbabwe and ostensibly only affected people who were listed with the Office of Foreign Assets Control which fell under the US government’s treasury department.
But it in effect barred international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the African Development Bank from granting loans to Zimbabwe unless this was approved by the United States president.
It was therefore not clear whether the affected businessmen were on the sanctions list.
Viewing cable 02HARARE1825, MEDIA REPORT LOCAL BUSINESSMEN TO CHALLENGE ZDERA;
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS HARARE 001825
DEPT FOR AF/PD (DALTON), AF/S (SCHLACHTER)
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: MEDIA REPORT LOCAL BUSINESSMEN TO CHALLENGE ZDERA;
¶1. The lead story in the August 8 edition of the
independent weekly “The Business Tribune” centers on an
application by a consortium of unidentified local
businessmen – allegedly “denied entry into the U. S. A.
early this year under the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic
Recovery Act (ZDERA) – challenging the “constitutionality”
of the Act under American Constitution. Under headline
“Zim businessmen to take Bush to court,” the paper reports:
¶2. “In a test case, a group of local businessmen denied
entry into the U. S. A. early this year through a battery
of travel sanctions imposed on selected Zimbabweans is
suing the Bush administration. They are arguing that the
measures are illegal because they violate a basic human
right entrenched in American law – the right to be heard.
The U. S., as punishment on President Robert Mugabe’s
government, imposed – under the ZDERA – travel sanctions on
some Zimbabweans perceived to be close or aligned to the
ruling ZANU PF party. Now the affected businessmen are
taking the U. S. Government to court seeking an annulment
of the legislation.
“According to the court documents obtained by the
`Business Tribune,’ dated June 5, 2002 and prepared by
a Harare law firm, the businessmen are questioning the
constitutionality of ZDERA under the U. S.
Constitution. `We need firstly an opinion as to
whether generally the ZDERA is constitutional. That
is whether in form, substance, and manner of
enactment, there are any grounds on which the entire
Act is or in particular Section 6, and the
proclamation made under the Act are in violation of
the U. S. constitution,’ read the heads of argument.
The business people are also challenging provisions of
the proclamation of the Act, which suspend entry into
the U. S. of `persons who through their business
dealings with Zimbabwe government officials derive
significant financial benefit from policies that
undermine or injure Zimbabwe’s democratic institutions
or impede the transition to a multi-party
democracy. . .’ Furthermore, the business people want
an opinion as to whether the Act, and more importantly
the American constitution, does not guarantee the
right to an objective process for a deliberate
breakdown in the rule of law, politically motivated
violence and intimidation. . .The business people want
to know whether the U. S. Constitution protects
foreign nationals where violations of the supreme law
can be proven and, if so, what criteria and what
practical steps must be taken. . . .”