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  • Citizenship issues

  • Citizenship of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill, 2003, and further update and advice on Citizenship, Renunciation and Passport Issues
    Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
    February 27, 2003

    We have noted the gazetting of the Citizenship of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill, 2003 on 14 February 2003. The position at present is as follows:

    Until such time as any amendments to the Citizenship of Zimbabwe Act are passed in Parliament and are signed into law by the President, the situation at the passport office shall remain the same. The Registrar-General (RG) will continue to deny Zimbabwean citizenship and a passport to individuals, one or both of whose parents were born outside Zimbabwe and who has not timeously in 2001 renounced an entitlement to foreign citizenship, even if s/he has previously renounced or never held, or applied for, that foreign citizenship. The only solution is either to pay the "citizenship restoration fee" of $30,000 and then apply for a new Zimbabwean passport and wait for it to be processed, or approach the High Court of Zimbabwe and have the matter resolved through litigation. THERE IS NO OTHER ALTERNATIVE. We would therefore be grateful if individuals could desist from telephoning our offices or e-mailing if they fall within this category unless there is a query not addressed in this advice, or our previous updates. We are also unable to intercede in individual cases at the passport offices at this time, as it is an exercise in futility.

    If the Amendment Bill is passed as it stands, it applies only to an individual:

    1. born in Zimbabwe, one or both of whose parents were born in a SADC country but entered Zimbabwe on or before 18 April 1980 to work as a general labourer, farm labourer, mine worker or domestic employee. Both the parent/s and the individual must have continuously resided in Zimbabwe (except for temporary absences) since the date of entry to Zimbabwe or birth respectively and the individual should never have acquired a foreign citizenship or passport or been protected by a foreign country since birth; OR
    2. born in a SADC country, one or both of whose parents were born in Zimbabwe and left Zimbabwe on or before 18 April 1980 to work in a SADC country as a general labourer, farm labourer, mine worker or domestic employee, and the parent/s were resident in that SADC country at the date of the individualís birth. The individual should be permanently resident in Zimbabwe at the time of making the application, and should not have acquired a foreign citizenship or passport or enjoyed the foreign countryís protection since his/her first entry into Zimbabwe.

    These categories of individuals will be exempt from renunciation requirements under the Citizenship of Zimbabwe Act, and will therefore not be considered to have lost their Zimbabwean citizenship due to failure to renounce their entitlement to foreign citizenship. They should be able to apply for a new Zimbabwean passport without having to pay the $30,000 "citizenship restoration fee".

    It is most unfortunate, however, that the Minister of Home Affairs has seen it fit to seek to remedy the statelessness of individuals in these categories, but not the thousands of other Zimbabweans who fall within the same categories, save for the fact that their parent/s were not general labourers, farm labourers, mine workers or domestic employees, or fall on the wrong side of the date of 18 April 1980. We believe that these intended amendments are discriminatory in their effect, placing restrictions on persons of certain descriptions on the basis of place of origin and race. As such, the amendments contravene s23 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. We intend to make such submissions to the Parliamentary Legal Committee, and challenge this legislation, if necessary, in due course.

    Please direct any new requests for information not addressed in this or previous updates either to fax no: 251468 or write to P O Box CY1393, Causeway, Harare or e-mail us on

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