By Gift Phiri
Government is moving to disenfranchise millions of Zimbabweans in the key 2018 vote by refusing to re-align the Citizenship Act with the new Constitution, opposition parties and civic groups have said.
Declarations by registrar general Tobaiwa Mudede that government will continue to outlaw dual citizenship by amending the new charter to abolish provisions allowing dual citizenship as part of an ongoing ploy to bar Zimbabweans not resident in the country from voting in the 2018 presidential, parliamentary and municipal polls.
This move is clearly designed to deny the opposition millions of votes from mostly illegal immigrants eking out a living in SA and other foreign countries who are decidedly anti-President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF, they said.
Opposition People’s Democratic Party president Tendai Biti said “Toneth Tobaiwa Mudede who hails from the central kingdom of Zvimba” must now be retired.
“Despite the fact that he turned 60 some 20 years ago, he continues to serve masquerading as the registrar general of the country,” Biti, a former Finance minister, said.
“He is in fact the registrar general of the country personally responsible for Nikuv and the Nikuved 2013 election.”
The MDC has claimed that the registrar general’s office paid controversial Israeli-based company, Nikuv Projects International (NPI), over $10 million to assist Zanu PF rig the July 31, 2013 polls, an allegation strenuously denied by the shadowy firm, the ruling party and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
“This man has a tremendous capability to speak with another part of his anatomy which is not his mouth. This week he postulated that the concept of dual citizenship so proudly entrenched in Chapter 3 of our constitution and indeed one of its real bright spots was anathema that Zanu PF would move to repeal.
“This coming from a mere civil servant, even one that is 20 years past his retirement date is unacceptable and high level madness,” Biti said.
Chapter 3 of the new Constitution states that one may become a citizen of Zimbabwe by birth, descent or registration.
In an address to the Zanu PF parliamentary caucus last week, Mudede said dual citizenship raised the spectre of tax evasion, evasion from justice, involvement in cases of human trafficking, international terrorism and problems in immigration control and called for amendments to Sections 36, 37 and 43 of the new charter overwhelmingly approved by 95 percent of Zimbabwe in a 2013 referendum.
“As the ministry of Home Affairs, we have decided that we are not going for realignment (of the Citizenship Act to the Constitution), but for amendment,” he said.
Mudede also demanded the reinstatement of a provision requiring foreigners who acquired Zimbabwe’s citizenship to take an oath of loyalty.
Zanu PF chief whip Lovemore Matuke promised to move the motion in Parliament.
Zanu PF has 160 seats in the 210-seat chamber, a commanding two-thirds majority, while the opposition MDC has 49 seats.
MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said dual or even multiple citizenship was there to stay.
“As the MDC, we derive comfort from the fact that even the majority of Zanu PF politicians are happy with the concept of dual citizenship since it also affects members of their own families,” Gutu said.
“Mudede doesn’t speak on behalf of Zanu PF; he is a lost cause who is wondering about in the miserable world of anachronism and negativity. We are pretty confident that the Constitution will not be amended to abolish dual citizenship.”
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition — a conglomeration of Zimbabwean civic groups — said the development indicates an absence of political accountability and political will to speedily re-align the country’s laws to the Constitution including the Citizen’s Act.
“In our view an amendment of Chapter 3 of the Constitution will cause statelessness,” said the coalition, which groups various rights organisations.
“We view the utterances by …Mudede as part of a bigger ploy to disenfranchise Zimbabweans living in the Diaspora as we head towards the watershed 2018 elections.”
An estimated three million citizens residing globally in countries such as South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Australia, US and the United Kingdom among others are now holders of dual citizenship.
These nationals remit close to $2 billion annually.
“Amending the Constitution to strip them of their Zimbabwean citizenship will not only disenfranchise them in the event that they want to come back home to exercise their right to vote in the 2018 elections but that some of them will be permanently stripped of their Zimbabwean citizenship,” the coalition said. Daily News