Harare to review citizenship law

HARARE – Zimbabwe Prime Minister office has said Zimbabwe’s unity government will review a controversial law used to strip hundreds of people of their citizenship and right to vote because they were once citizens of other countries or because their parents were once foreigners.

A top Tsvangirai aide, Gorden Moyo, said the Premier’s office was working on a policy document on the citizenship law that will be submitted to Cabinet. He said changes to the law were necessary to enable thousands of Zimbabweans who lost their citizenship or who have acquired citizenship of other countries to participate in national affairs.

“All we are saying is that let’s discuss about these issues,” said Moyo, a minister of state in Tsvangirai’s office. “There are a lot of children who were born out of the country and acquired citizenship of their resident countries but they are also Zimbabweans who have lost their citizenship because of the dual citizenship law.”

Zimbabwe bars dual citizenship, while a 2003 amendment to the Citizenship Act tightened the law by requiring Zimbabweans who were once citizens of other countries or whose parents were once foreigners to formally renounce that “foreign citizenship” in order to qualify for Zimbabwean citizenship.

The law saw hundreds of Zimbabweans removed from the citizenship roll, in what Tsvangirai’s MDC party said was a ploy by President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU PF party to whittle down its support.

Most of those affected by the law were white Zimbabweans of European origin or black workers on white-owned farms whose parents migrated from neighbouring countries and who largely supported the MDC.

Moyo said the proposed changes to the citizenship law were part of wider efforts to restore the rights of an estimated three million Zimbabweans or a quarter of the country’s 12 million people living in exile and to encourage them to participate in the recovery of the country.

“We are working on a policy document that is going to increase the participation of Zimbabweans in the diaspora in the economy and other spheres,” he said. “We are still on the discussion stage but the policy is going to deal with issues such as the remittances of investments, repatriation of skills, refugees, restoration of voting rights and the citizenship question.”

Tsvangirai, whose MDC party formed a power-sharing government with President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU PF party in February, has called on exiled Zimbabweans to return home to help rebuild the country.  – ZimOnline