Mudede should respect Constitution

HARARE - Proposed ban of dual citizenship by Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede is part of a plan by the ruling Zanu PF government to rig the 2018 general elections, social and political analysts’ content.

Their comments follow Mudede’s presentation on the Constitution and dual citizenship at a Zanu PF party parliamentary caucus where he urged amendment of the Constitution to ban dual citizenship in a move that would adversely impact millions of Zimbabwe's now living abroad. Zanu PF legislators were said to be supportive of the proposal.

Mudede said the government will not seek to re-align the Citizenship Act with the new Constitution, but will instead move for the amendment of the supreme law to abolish provisions allowing dual citizenship. "As the Ministry of Home Affairs, we have decided that we are not going for realignment (of the Citizenship Act to the Constitution), but for amendment," he said. He added that Sections 36, 37 and 43 of the Constitution had to be amended.

Zimbabwe’s four-year-old Constitution allows for one to hold dual citizenship which Mudede said posed a number of security challenges to the country as it fuels crimes like human trafficking and tax evasion.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition in a statement after Mudede’s proposal said the Registrar General should respect the country's constitution and that his proposal was not just an attack on the constitution but also a ploy by Zanu PF to rig the 2018 polls.

"We view the utterances by Mudede as part of a bigger ploy to disenfranchise Zimbabweans living in the diaspora as we head towards the watershed 2018 elections.

"We are appalled by such undemocratic and discriminatory tendencies by government considering that the new Constitution is a new document which was an outcome of extensive input of the majority including Zimbabweans living in the diaspora.

"It is imperative for the government to note that the majority of its citizens are residing globally in countries such as South Africa, Namibia, Botswana Australia, USA and the United Kingdom, among others, and they are now holders of dual citizenship.

"However, these nationals have remained Zimbabweans remitting close to US$2 billion annually.”

ZESN national director Rindai Chipfunde-Vava said: “This not consistent with the constitution and it must be condemned. Mudede is subject to the supreme law of the land and these moves will disenfranchisement the vote.”

MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said: “Mudede is yesterday's man. He is a die-hard fascist and Stalinist. Mudede is dangerous to Zimbabwe's democratization agenda. This is why, at the ripe old age of 80 or there abouts, he is still a civil servant who is periodically used by the Zanu PF regime to manipulate the voters' roll as well as to rig elections.

“Mudede is a vital cog in the Zanu PF regime election rigging machinery. What Mudede should know is that Chapter 3 of the supreme law of the land allows dual citizenship.

“And he should also know, as he claims to be a lawyer, that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land.

“We know that Zanu PF is desperate to prevent Zimbabweans based in the diaspora from voting in next year's elections. This is the main reason why ZEC is always ducking and diving each time that the issue of the diaspora vote is raised.”

Analyst Rashweat Mukundu said: “This is another case of contempt for the Constitution which the people voted for in a referendum. Essentially we are seeing the constitution being shred into pieces, page by page.

“Mudede’s views are archaic as concepts on citizenship have changed and Zimbabweans out of Zimbabwe are playing a key role in national issues, more so millions in remittances.”

Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) said it is worried by the apparent politicisation of citizenship by the government and that Mudede’s remarks were a reflection of the government attitude towards human rights and the rule of law.

“Mudede’s revelations plainly expose why the government has delayed, four years down the line after the adoption of the Constitution, implementing the constitutional provisions to do with dual citizenship, in particular, and the Constitution itself, in general.

“It appears that the government of the day has deliberately chosen to ignore constitutional provisions that it is not comfortable with, while awaiting an opportunity to bring in amendments to the Constitution in a way that brings the entire reluctant approach to the alignment of laws into question.

“The continued opposition to dual citizenship by the government is a violation of constitutionally-guaranteed human rights and insensitive to the context of Zimbabwe and its big Diaspora population,” ZimRights said.

ZimRights added that millions of Zimbabweans forced into exile by a debilitating economic social and political crisis would want to maintain their status as citizens.

“That the Registrar-General already talks of amending Sections 36, 37 and 43 of the Constitution before even any alignment of the Citizenship Act is to treat the supreme law of the country with high-handed and unmistakable contempt.”

Media practitioner Nigel Nyamutumbu said: “The appetite by the ruling party to either deliberately ignore rights guaranteed in the Constitution or to attempt to amend the supreme law to suit the interests of one section of the population over the other is deplorable.

“In the case of dual citizenship, government is actually exposing its double standards by one hand encouraging diasopora remittances while on the other denying the same citizens of their right to vote.”

Social commentator rejoice Ngwenya said: “First of all, Mudede is a lawyer, so he should know better. The constitution protects the rights of Zimbabwean citizens wherever they are, so the fact that he is an extension of Zanu PF delusion doesn't make us take him seriously. “The obsession with depriving Diaspora of voting rights is now a cancerous tumour in the Zanu PF body politic. The Constitutional Court must be approached to prevent further madness.”

Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme could only say: “It's a ploy to crowd out voters in diaspora. It's politically motivated.”

Mining activist Farai Muguwu said: “It's back to the early 2000s when they disenfranchised millions of Zimbabweans through banning dual citizenship and classified some as 'aliens'. “Sad reality is the opposition is like sheep being led to the slaughter. Why do they allow Zanu PF to trash the constitution like that while they are busy campaigning for an election whose result is already being created by Mudede. This is why we say the 2018 election without reforms is a sham!”

…as time runs out for BVR

Meanwhile, analysts contend that time is fast running out for the successful adoption, implementation and exhaustive review of biometric voter registration ahead of the 2018 elections.

Election Resource Centre director Tawanda Chimhini said a number of issues remain outstanding before we can be convinced that we will have a credible voters' roll for the next election and that it will be a biometric one.

“Firstly the Electoral Act, on the basis on which the Regulations and Procedures are supposed crafted, is not fully aligned with the Constitution. As such rushing to adopt BVR with a weak Electoral Act is dangerous for the credibility of the next elections.

“Secondly, there must be clear provisions to depart from the contested 2013 voters' roll which must be nowhere near the 2018 elections. Such clarity is yet to be established legislatively.

“There is a real fear that the keeping of such vagueness in the rules for elections could be deliberate to not only allow a contested voters' roll back through the back door which exposes the next election result to disputes on numerous fronts,” said Chimhini.

Political activist Tabani Moyo said: “This is a clear show of power dynamics at play. The incumbency will use the methodology that it sees as most beneficial to its power consolidation politics.

“The opposition should be clear on its demands and escalate political campaigns that ensure that the ruling party does not go all the way with unchecked powers.

“If the opposition is not careful it will face the same predicament of getting into an election without access to the voter's roll.”

Legislator Kessie Majome said: “I fear that the BVR process roll out may not meet the election time frame to allow universal franchise.

“ZeC should have been funded years ago for it to be ready for the 2018 elections. Using the 2013 roll would be as catastrophic as it would be unconstitutional, as well as the resultant vote. It would be better for ZEC to resort to a simple system based on IDs instead.”

Mukundu said: “All indications are that Zimbabwe may as well use the manual voters roll. There is nothing in the Zec election guidelines that compels Zec to adopt BVR. Instead BVR is at the discretion of Zec in whatever format Zecdecides.

“With the slow pace of this process it makes sense to say BVR may not be attainable by 2018.”

Ngwenya said: “My take is that the whole electoral participation spectrum from an opposition viewpoint depends on the BVR adoption. So if it is delayed, the elections will be pushed forward.

“The 2013 voter register will completely delegitimise the election and if adopted, that will be a damn good reason for non-participation.”

Maguwu said: “The BVR process was introduced very late and even if government proceeds to use it in 2018 the results would be disastrous. It would have been better if the BVR had been tested in the several bi-elections held since 2013.

“It’s clear they won't be ready to use BVR in the next poll but I think someone has a 'big idea' about how this BVR will benefit them and they won't yield to reason.”

Comments (1)

Is Mudede really a lawyer? At which college/university did he graduate? If you bothered to investigate you will most likely find this guy at best was only enrolled to study law but never really passed the course.

Ini Bate-Reke - 1 July 2017

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