Dual citizens have the right to vote in Zimbabwe - David Coltart

MDC Secretary for Legal Affairs says Registrar General's staff should not be flouting Constitutional Court ruling


In terms of sections 36 and 43 of the new Zimbabwean Constitution ALL Zimbabweans born in Zimbabwe who have at least one parent who was either a Zimbabwe citizen at the time of their birth or one parent who is/was a citizen of any SADC country (and the person claiming citizenship must be currently resident) are entitled to citizenship AS OF RIGHT.

As soon as the new Constitution was published, Mr Mutumwa Mawere, a Zimbabwean by birth who subsequently acquired South African citizenship, approached the Registrar-General to have his Zimbabwean citizenship recognised in accordance with the new constitutional provisions. The Registrar-General informed Mr Mawere that he was not entitled to dual citizenship under the new Constitution, and that he had to renounce his foreign citizenship in order to acquire Zimbabwean identification documents.

Mr Mawere lodged an urgent application at the Constitutional Court requesting that his entitlement to dual citizenship be confirmed and asking that, to protect his right to vote in the upcoming elections, the current "special and intensive" voter registration exercise be postponed pending the court's decision. Immediately after hearing the case on 26th June, the Constitutional Court granted an order confirming his dual citizenship and making the following declaration:

" ... the refusal or failure to issue the applicant with a national identity document upon application on May 27, 2013, was unlawful and in contravention of section 36(1) and applicant's right to vote enshrined in section 67(3)(a) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. The [Registrar-General] is interdicted from demanding the applicant to first renounce his foreign-acquired citizenship before he can be issued with a national identity document".

The court's reasons for judgment will be handed down later.

The effect of this judgement is that all those born in Zimbabwe (and who comply with the above mentioned conditions) who have foreign passports cannot be denied the right to a Zimbabwean passport, the right to register and the right to vote. You do not have to surrender any foreign passport you have or renounce any foreign citizenship you have - you are a Zimbabwean citizen and have the RIGHT TO DUAL CITIZENSHIP.

I have received numerous complaints from constituents stating that the Registrar General's staff are ignoring the judgment and demanding that holders of foreign passports surrender them before being able to change their IDs from "alien" to citizen - and then of course to be registered.

If this has happened to you or anyone else please do not give up and encourage others not to give up. Please let me know the details and we will try what we can to argue on your behalf.

I have no doubt that this is a deliberate and desperate measure by the RG's office to deny thousands of Zimbabweans the right to vote because they know that all those citizens who have been regarded as "aliens" and treated with such contempt by Zanu PF during the last decade will not vote for Zanu PF.

I appreciate that this policy is designed to frustrate and deter citizens - so that they simply give up and cannot vote. Please do not give up - please be determined to get your citizenship back, to register and then to vote these people out of office.

Edmund Burke said "all it takes for evil to succeed is for good people to do nothing." Please don't allow that to happen. The future of our country is too important for us just to give up in the face of people who want to frustrate us and deny us fundamental rights. It is going to take patience, dogged determination, endurance and time to do this but it is critical that everyone tries. You only have until the 9th of July 2013 to get registered so please make time to stand up for your future, the future of your children and the future of Zimbabwe - this week.

Statement issued by Senator David Coltart, Secretary for Legal Affairs, MDC, June 30 2013

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