Con-Court upholds dual citizenship

HARARE - The Constitutional Court yesterday slammed the Immigration Authority for denying Zimbabweans based in other countries the right to dual citizenship.

In the ruling in a case brought by Farai Madzimbamuto who was denied citizenship for possessing a South African passport, Justice Vernanda Ziyambi said the new Constitution approved dual citizenship.

“Any law which is inconsistent with the Constitution is void to the extent of its inconsistency,” Ziyambi said in the judgment.

“To say that the applicant, as a citizen by birth, is entitled to dual citizenship conferred by the Constitution and then to deny him the right to freely enter and leave Zimbabwe, which right is affordable to all citizens in terms of section 66 on the grounds that he was presented a foreign passport is to deprive him of the benefits of the enjoyment of two fundamental rights conferred on him by the Constitution of Zimbabwe, namely the right to dual citizenship inherent in his birth right as a Zimbabwean citizen by birth and the right to freedom of movement.

“It is for the regulations to be brought into conformity with the Constitution and not the Constitution to conform to the regulations.”

Ziyambi ordered the principal director of Immigration Clemence Masango to give Madzimbamuto full citizenship. She made the ruling with a full bench of Con-Court judges.

“It is declared that the applicant is a citizen of Zimbabwe by birth with entitlement to dual citizenship,” Ziyambi said.

“The second respondent is hereby ordered to endorse in the applicant’s South African passport upon presentation thereof to him the applicant’s right to unrestricted and unconditional residence in Zimbabwe,” she said.

Madzimbamuto, through his lawyer Julia Wood, had submitted that he be declared a Zimbabwean citizen since the new Constitution allows such.

Tobaiwa Mudede, the registrar general, was cited as the first respondent, Masango as the second respondent, Home Affairs ministerr Kembo Mohadi as the third respondent and prosecutor general Johannes Tomana as the fourth respondent.

The State, represented by Sammuel Pedzisai, said Masango was acting in terms of the Immigration Regulations of 1998 which govern immigration officers.

“Upon presentation of a South African passport, the presenter is regarded as an alien and is expected to comply with the regulations,” Pedzisai said.

“While acknowledging the entitlement of the applicant to dual citizenship and therefore to unrestricted entry into and exit from Zimbabwe, the second respondent was of the firm view that if the applicant chooses to travel on a South African passport then he should apply for a residence permit like all other alien holders of foreign passports,” he submitted.

The court heard Madzimbamuto left the country in 2003 on a Zimbabwean passport to work in the United Kingdom (UK).

Upon expiry of his passport, it is alleged that he attempted to get a new one through the Zimbabwean Embassy in London but was referred to Harare, the embassy no longer having the capacity to issue passports.

Madzimbamuto allegedly returned home and failed to secure a passport before returning to UK where he managed to obtain a South African passport by virtue of his mother’s being born in South Africa.

When Madzimbamuto returned home permanently in 2012, he was advised by the Immigration authority to apply for a residence permit to stay, which he did.

When the new constitution was promulgated, Madzimbamuto  applied for his acceptance as a citizen by endorsement of his permanent residence on his South African passport but was declined before he was ordered to acquire a Zimbabwean passport.

He further requested an endorsement of his permanent residence status on his South African passport to no avail.

Comments (2)

90% of countries on the face of the earth have dual citizenship. But ZPF doesnt want it so as to bar the whitemen from coming back and legally claiming heritage from abroad. and also whose properties they stole during hondo yeminda.

delight - 26 June 2014

They just scheme things to oppress and deny pple their rights. 24 hours a day, they just think of how to press forward with repression and denials. Nothing develpmental in their minds. Read the constitution wena Tobaiwa Muduzvi!

Tongogara - 26 June 2014

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