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Mawere gives Mudede citizenship ultimatum

by Violet Gonda
31 May 2013 at 10:06hrs | Views
Zimbabwean businessman Mutumwa Mawere is taking steps to have the issue of dual citizenship addressed by the High Court. He wrote a final letter to Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede on Thursday, seeking an official response to clarify this provision in the new constitution, which affects tens of thousands of Zimbabweans living abroad.

The country's citizenship law came under the spotlight recently after Mawere, who is also a South Africa citizen, was told by the Registrar General that dual citizenship is not permissible in the country.

Mawere has now written to the Registrar General, who is the authority that administers the Citizenship Act, and has given him until Friday 31st May to make an official response explaining the status of the dual citizenship provisions in the Constitution, or he will seek redress in the High Court.

Mudede told Mawere, who is a South African by naturalization, that he would have to renounce his South African citizenship before he could apply for a Zim identification document.

Mawere said under the new constitution, signed into law by President Mugabe last week, an individual cannot be denied dual citizenship if they were born in Zimbabwe. There are tens of thousands of Zimbabweans in the Diaspora who were born in the country, but have taken citizenship in foreign countries where they now live and work.

Confusion has been caused as it appears the abridged version of the constitution says: "Dual citizenship is automatically permitted in respect of Zimbabweans by birth." But the full constitution that was passed into law appears to only state that "persons are Zimbabwean citizens by birth if they were born in Zimbabwe" without elaborating on what that means if the same individual is also a citizen of another country.

Mawere told SW Radio Africa: "Mudede has to confirm whether the constitution provides for a person born in Zimbabwe, who qualifies to be a citizen, to be given that right in terms of the constitution. It would appear that any law that is inconsistent with the new constitution is ultra vires, and therefore is invalid to the extent that it conflicts with the new constitution.

"The citizenship portion of the new constitution is already operative from last Friday when there was a gazette. So under that constitution there is no qualification of citizenship that would allow discretion on the part of the Registrar General to deny citizenship."

He said he wants confirmation that would enable other affected individuals to be able to assert their rights in terms of the new constitution without being 'abused by the Registrar General'.

Mawere has instructed his lawyers from Nyakutambwa Legal Counsel to file a legal application in the High Court on Monday if they don't hear from Mudede by end of the business day on Friday.

"If Mr. (Jealousy) Mawarire can go to court to get the president to proclaim a date for the elections surely we have to go to court to test whether this constitution means what is written on paper," added Mawere.

Source - swradio