By Tichaona Sibanda
SW Radio Africa
23 July 2014
The government has finally admitted dual citizenship is allowed under the new constitution adopted last year, following months of dilly dallying over the issue.
On Tuesday Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede became the first high ranking government official to admit that Zimbabweans are now allowed to have foreign citizenship while keeping their Zimbabwean citizenship.
Now that Mudede has tacitly agreed dual citizenship is allowed under the new constitution, he should immediately move to issue a clear policy statement, a legal expert said on Wednesday.
Dr Alex Magaisa, a law lecturer and political analyst, said what Mudede should do as a registrar-general is to give direction on what people must do to obtain dual citizenship.
‘Mudede says there is a scramble for Zimbabwean citizenship by different nationalities but he does not indicate the statistics to demonstrate that scramble.’
‘At the moment everything is just haphazard and reports in the state media portray Zimbabwe as a democratic country just because dual citizenship is now allowed. This is just propaganda,’ said Magaisa.
The legal expert explained that what is needed now is clarification from government on the issue so that there is no more confusion. For over a year, since the adoption of the new charter, there has been confusion surrounding the issue on dual nationality.
Mudede’s latest pronouncements seemed to indicate that he believed dual citizenship also applied to persons not born in Zimbabwe. It had previously been understood that only persons born in the country could apply.
But now even those born outside Zimbabwe, but whose parents or grandfathers are from Zimbabwe, are also eligible to apply for dual citizenship.
‘As long as it is in compliance with the new constitution, Mudede should make a policy statement on what is required for one to qualify, how they must do it and the documents to be produced to enable citizens to apply for dual citizenship,’ Magaisa added.
Mudede’s about turn on dual citizenship follows a landmark ruling by the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) in May that endorsed a Zimbabwean citizen’s unrestricted entitlement to dual citizenship rights.
In that particular case, the ConCourt also ordered the Registrar General, Minister of Home Affairs, Attorney General and the Principal Director of Immigration to comply with the law.
A medical doctor, Farai Daniel Madzimbamuto had approached the courts seeking to compel the Director of Immigration to endorse his South African passport with an unrestricted and indefinite residence permit.
Many Zimbabweans have been deprived of their citizenship rights, having to renounce any foreign citizenship in order to retain Zimbabwean citizenship.