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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Zimbabwe Citizenship Issues

Scores of Zimbabweans, whose citizenship is meant to be recognised and guaranteed by the new constitution, have been denied documentation in recent weeks, with a lack of clarity on the laws causing chaos.
It was hoped that with the creation and gazetting of a new constitution, the confusion over who is entitled to citizenship would finally be clarified.
According to that new charter there are three types of recognised citizenship including citizenship by birth and by descent. The law states that if you were born in Zimbabwe and your mother or your father was a Zimbabwean citizen, you are a citizen by birth. The same applies if you were born in Zimbabwe and neither of your parents was a Zimbabwean citizen, but any of your grandparents was a citizen by birth or descent.
You're also considered a citizen by birth if you were born outside Zimbabwe but either your mother or your father was a Zimbabwe citizen who normally lived in Zimbabwe or was working for the Government or an international organisation. If not, and your parent or grandparent was a Zimbabwe citizen by birth or descent, then you are a citizen by descent.
But despite these clear laws, people are still being turned away if neither of their parents are Zimbabwean citizens.
This includes the daughter of Simon Spooner, the former MDC security adviser and campaign manager for Senator David Coltart. Spooner's daughter Kylie, has been unable to secure a new passport, despite being a citizen by birth and a former passport holder. Her mother is a Zimbabwean citizen by birth, while her father was born in Kenya, but also holds Zimbabwean citizenship.
Spooner told SW Radio Africa that his daughter was assured by Registrar authorities in Harare that she could apply for passport renewal, despite suggestions that this would not be possible "because the statutory instrument governing the new status for citizenship had not been gazetted." The provincial registrar in Bulawayo also supported the position stated in Harare, saying only that she need a certificate of citizenship to secure her new passport.
However last week when she went to the citizenship office for this certificate, she and a number of other Zimbabweans seeking documentation were turned away by an official.
"The officer there simply said there is no statutory instrument and therefore the constitution is not binding. Further to that he indicated that anybody of that status could not apply for passports, that the whole matter had been frozen since June, So that effectively denies hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans, if not more, access to travel documents," Spooner explained.
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