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Inexplicit dual citizenship laws creating serious confusion

Inexplicit dual citizenship laws creating serious confusion

By Alex Bell
SW Radio Africa
7 June 2013

The new constitution’s lack of clarity in terms of dual citizenship laws has 
created serious confusion among Zimbabweans, with the charter failing to 
explicitly state what the law is.

The new charter was officially gazetted by Robert Mugabe last month after a 
referendum that saw Zimbabweans vote to have the document replace the old 
Lancaster House constitution.

The new set of laws however has faced criticism for a number of issues, and 
one of the most contentious has been the legality or otherwise of dual 
citizenship. With millions of Zimbabweans having fled the country in the 
midst of the economic and political collapse, there is now huge demand from 
nationals in the Diaspora for a clear law on whether they can retain their 
foreign citizenship or not.

The MDC-T has insisted for months that dual citizenship is allowed according 
to the new charter, despite their ZANU PF partners in government 
continuously denying this was the case.

The situation then reached new heights of confusion when businessman Mutumwa 
Mawere was told to renounce his South African citizenship by Registrar 
General (and ZANU PF minister) Tobaiwa Mudede, before he could apply for a 
Zim ID.

Mawere has since filed an urgent application with the Constitutional Court, 
urging it to confirm the provisions regarding the issue of dual citizenship, 
arguing that as a Zimbabwean by birth he is entitled to documentation.

Andrew Makoni, the Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, 
told SW Radio Africa that clarity is needed to end this confusion. He 
explained that the new document does not explicitly allow or deny 
Zimbabweans the right to dual citizenship, but does recognise Zimbabwean 
citizenship by birth, descent and registration. He explained that the only 
mention of dual citizenship is in section 42 (e), stating that an act of 
Parliament can prohibit dual citizenship in respect of citizens by descent 
or registration.

“There is no reference here to citizens by birth, so by implication one can 
argue that it means that those who are citizens by birth can have dual 
citizenship,” Makoni said.

But he agreed that the lack of clarity means this can be interpreted very 
differently, as has been done in the Mutumwa Mawere case, with Registrar 
General Mudede insisting that Mawere renounce his foreign citizenship.

Makoni said: “There should be no reason for Mawere to be denied his rights 
to Zim citizenship on the basis of his foreign citizenship, because he is a 
Zimbabwean by birth.” He added that there should also be no reason for 
Mawere to renounce his foreign citizenship, and there is no explicit 
statement in the constitution that this is the case.

Meanwhile Mudede this week reportedly stuck to his interpretation that 
Zimbabweans who want to register must renounce their foreign citizenship 
first. According to a ZBC news report, Mudede explained that any child born 
of either parent who is Zimbabwean has the right to register and vote in the 
coming elections. The news report went on to say that Mudede “also explained 
the process of renouncing one’s former citizenship.”

The ZLHR’s Makoni said Friday that this confusion needs to be rectified, and 
called for parliamentarians to take steps to detail what the laws are,

“What is simply required is as soon as possible an Act of Parliament be 
enacted to clarify the issues of dual citizenship,” Makoni said. 



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