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to become Zimbabwean again
Shoko, Mail and Guardian, (SA)
June 07, 2013
their citizenship ahead of the 2002 polls, thousands born in Zimbabwe
To be accepted
as Zimbabwean by the government is not as easy or obvious as it
may seem to outsiders. One need only ask human rights activist Judith
Todd and businessman Mutumwa Mawere, whose paths may never cross,
but who are connected in their quest to be recognised as Zimbabwean.
Todd, the daughter
of former colonial Southern Rhodesia prime minister Sir Garfield
Todd, is glad the new Constitution
now restores her citizenship after she was rendered stateless by
Zimbabwean authorities more than a decade ago.
Todd, also the
author of three books, including her controversial Through the Darkness:
A life in Zimbabwe, was stripped of her Zimbabwean citizenship in
2001 along with 100 000 other so-called aliens as President Robert
Mugabe faced an uncertain election.
But with the
stroke of a pen last month, Mugabe, who appointed Todd's father
Garfield a senator in the newly independent country in 1980, signed
into law the new Constitution, which allows dual citizenship, in
effect restoring Todd's Zimbabwean status.
Faced with fierce
resistance from the then united opposition in the run-up to the
2002 presidential election, Mugabe's administration disenfranchised
more than 100 000 people mostly born to Malawian or Zambian parents.
They were deemed to be aliens.
For Todd, the
issue was her parents' place of birth. Todd was deemed alien because
both her parents were born in New Zealand, though she herself was
born in Zimbabwe and spent all her life in the country.
Todd (71) fought
protracted legal battles with Tobaiwa Mudede, the registrar general,
who is also in charge of the voters' roll, in desperate attempts
to retain her citizenship.
Zimbabwe passport needed renewal in 2001, Mudede refused to renew
it, in effect stripping me of my citizenship," Todd told the
Mail & Guardian this week.
In May 2002,
Zimbabwean Judge Justice Sandra Mungwira found Mudede's actions
illegal and ordered him to renew Todd's passport, marking the beginning
of a long battle that went all the way up to the Supreme Court.
complied with Mungwira's order to the extent that he issued me a
temporary passport in which he pre-empted any further judgments
by declaring I was a permanent resident, thus not a citizen, of
Zimbabwe. When that passport expired he refused to renew it, so
I was left stateless and with no travel documents. But I am now
very glad that the new Constitution restores to many of us, but
not all, alas, our citizenship by birth in Zimbabwe," said
While she was
stateless, Todd never surrendered her Zimbabwe identity card, "so
I have just slipped back into normal life as a Zimbabwean. I have
checked the voters' roll and I am there. So I will certainly be
voting in the elections".
voters for the opposition'
She has no doubt
in her mind why the Mugabe regime stripped her and thousands of
others of their citizenship in the run-up to the 2002 presidential
election and the subsequent
polls in 2008.
quite obvious that all of us stripped of our citizenship were regarded
as potential voters for the opposition. Stripping us of our citizenship
was simply to disenfranchise us."
she was bitter with Mudede, she said: "I simply feel –
quite unemotionally that as registrar general Mudede has betrayed
Zimbabwe. That's all."
Mawere is also battling his citizenship status in court. He has
filed an urgent application with the Constitutional Court, urging
it to confirm the provisions regarding the issue of dual citizenship.
Last week, Mudede
told Mawere that he first had to renounce his South African citizenship
before he could apply for a Zimbabwe identity document and a passport.
the court to compel Mudede to give him the identity documents to
enable him to vote in the upcoming elections.
He argues in
his court papers that, according to the new Constitution, citizenship
by birth is not revocable and there is automatic citizenship for
people born to Zimbabwean parents. Mawere was born to Zimbabwean
parents in Bindura in 1961.
He further says
that Mudede has no authority to try to negotiate the issue.
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