THE NGO NETWORK ALLIANCE PROJECT - an online community for Zimbabwean activists  
†View archive by sector


Back to Index, Back to Special Index

This article participates on the following special index pages:

  • 2002 Presidential & Harare Municipal elections - Index of articles
  • Citizenship issues

  • Judith Garfield Todd v Registrar-General of Citizenship & Minister of Home Affairs - Update #20
    Citizenship Lobby Group (CLG)
    May 12, 2002


    Dear All

    This update provides you with a press release from the Legal Resources Foundation regarding Judith Todd's critical court case against the Registrar General & Minister of Home Affairs. The judge ruled that people who have never taken up their entitlement to a foreign citizenship continue to be Zimbabweans.

    Below are three articles from the press which provide background to the case:


    Brenda Burrell

    Judith Garfield Todd v Registrar-General of Citizenship & Minister of Home Affairs:
    Case No. Hc 55/2002
    Legal Resources Foundation
    Fri, May 10, 2002

    Herewith a summary of the main features in this case, on which a ruling was made by Hon. Justice Mungwira today.

    Costs of the case were sponsored by the Test Case Committee in Zimbabwe which is comprised of representatives from the Legal Resources Foundation, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association and ZimRights.

    The Judgment in the above case was handed down by the Honourable Mrs Justice Mungwira on Friday 10 May 2002. The following facts were not in dispute in the case:

    1. Miss Todd, the daughter of Sir Garfield and the late Lady Todd, was born in Zimbabwe and is a citizen of Zimbabwe by birth.
    2. Miss Todd is the holder of a Zimbabwean passport which has now expired and needs to be renewed.
    3. Miss Todd is not a citizen of any other country.

    The Registrar-General of Citizenship, who is also in charge of Zimbabwe Passports, refused to renew Miss Toddís Zimbabwe passport on the basis that her parents were born in New Zealand and Miss Todd was therefore apparently either a New Zealand citizen or had an entitlement to New Zealand citizenship. As such, the Registrar-General argued, Miss Todd was required to renounce her "New Zealand citizenship" or her claim to "New Zealand citizenship".

    The Citizenship of Zimbabwe Act was amended in 2001 to the effect that Zimbabwean citizens, who were also citizens of a foreign country, had to renounce their foreign citizenship by 6 January 2002, failing which they lost their Zimbabwean citizenship. The Registrar-General argued in Miss Toddís case that as she had failed to renounce her "New Zealand citizenship" by 6 January 2002, she had automatically lost her Zimbabwean citizenship and he could not therefore renew her Zimbabwean passport.

    The Court did not agree with the Registrar-Generalís argument and found that the amendment to the Citizenship Act only applied to persons who were citizens of Zimbabwe and also citizens of a foreign country. It did not apply to persons who simply had a claim or entitlement to a foreign citizenship which they had never exercised.

    The learned Judge quoted, with approval, from an earlier judgment by the Honourable Mr Justice Adam which stated that:

    "The First Respondent (that is the Registrar-General) if he has been demanding from Zimbabwe born citizens, one or both of whose parents were born in a foreign country that they renounce their foreign citizenship, then he is flagrantly acting ultra vires section 3(2) of the Citizenship of Zimbabwe Act. His conduct would certainly be unlawful. The First Respondent, a mere public functionary, seems to have arrogantly and unashamedly arrogated to himself the functions of the legislation and the powers of the judiciary. Section 21 of the Citizenship of Zimbabwe Act provides that the use of a current Zimbabwean passport or a current foreign passport contrary to its provisions is an offence. It is for the police and the Attorney-General to determine whether or not a person has committed an offence in terms of section 21. The attitude of the First Respondent shows that he has usurped those functions and that he regards it as being his responsibility, since he has taken it upon himself to require Zimbabwean-born citizens of foreign born parents to renounce their foreign citizenship, as if they would have been committing an offence under section 21. In his capacity as Registrar-General, it is not his responsibility to grant citizenship under the Citizenship of Zimbabwe Act. That Act falls under the administration of the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs."

    Accordingly, the Honourable Mrs Justice Mungwira found that Miss Todd was still a Zimbabwe citizen and therefore ordered the Registrar-General of Citizenship to renew her Zimbabwe passport within 14 days of the submission of the necessary application for such renewal.

    Visit the CLG Fact sheet
    Visit the LRF Fact sheet

    Please credit if you make use of material from this website. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.