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Confusion remains over dual citizenship laws

Confusion remains over dual citizenship laws

By Alex Bell
05 February 2013

There is still serious confusion over whether the new draft constitution 
allows for dual citizenship or not, with the parties in government appearing 
to translate the new rules differently.

The new document does not explicitly allow or deny Zimbabweans the right to 
dual citizenship, but does recognise Zimbabwean citizenship by birth, 
descent and registration. Section 42 (e) contains the only comment on the 
contentious issue, stating that an act of Parliament can prohibit dual 

This is a slight change to the previous draft charter released last year, 
which had said that an act of Parliament may pass legislation for ‘the 
prohibition [or permitting] of dual citizenship in respect of citizens by 
descent or registration’. The change is that the phrase ‘or permitting’ has 
been removed.

But according to the democracy group OSISA, this deletion “makes no 
substantive difference, merely removing a confusion caused by the suggestion 
that legislation would be needed to permit dual citizenship when the 
constitution does not otherwise forbid it.”

To make matters more complicated, officials in government are not agreed on 
the details, despite agreeing to put the document forward for a referendum. 
The MDC-T has repeatedly stated that dual citizenship is definitely provided 
for with party leader, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, telling world 
leaders in Switzerland last month that this was so.

This is contrary to the opinion held by ZANU PF. Most recently, Justice 
Minister Patrick Chinamasa said: “There is no dual citizenship, and there 
will be no Diaspora vote, the country does not have the funding for it.”

Andrew Makoni from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said there 
is no clear law on dual citizenship, saying “it seems to me the MPs 
responsible for drafting these laws didn’t want to define what dual 
citizenship means.”

“There are fears on one side of government about what dual citizenship would 
mean in respect of a Diaspora vote. So the challenge is that we (Zimbabwe) 
have postponed the issue…it has essentially been parked,” Makoni said.

He added that the confusion is “unfortunate” especially for the millions of 
Zimbabweans living in the Diaspora, “many of them not out of choice.”

“They are being asked to contribute to a society that does not recognise 
their rights and that is very unfortunate. So it really doesn’t appear as if 
this issue is a priority for the government, but it needs to be,” Makoni 

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