No dual citizenship in new constitution

Zimbabweans in the Diaspora will be disappointed to note that dual citizenship is not enshrined in the new constitution, whose draft was released this week.

Despite statements from MDC-T officials in COPAC that dual citizenship was in the constitution, the draft of the new charter is vague on the issue.

The only section where it is mentioned is on powers of Parliament in regard to citizenship. Part 3.8 of Chapter 3 says: “ An Act of Parliament may make provision, consistent with this chapter, for the prohibition or permitting of dual citizenship in respect of citizens by descent or registration.”

It’s well been understood that dual citizenship is a contentious issue for ZANU PF and clearly COPAC failed to find common ground, and so it is now just a matter referred to Parliament.

Lawyer and pro-democracy activist Dewa Mavhinga told SW Radio Africa’s Election Watch program that he strongly believes the matter on dual citizenship was deliberately omitted by COPAC.

‘It’s a political position. It’s no coincidence that one party in the negotiations felt uneasy letting millions of Zimbabweans vote in the next election.

‘This is a gross omission which is obviously very disappointing, which does not therefore give hope that perhaps as Zimbabweans living outside the country we could claim our fundamental rights to vote,’ Mavhinga said.

Mavhinga explained that legally, the gap left on dual citizenship, if not clearly expressed in the constitution will come into conflict with the current constitution.

‘As it is, the new draft doesn’t prohibit dual citizenship, it just leaves it to the next parliament to deal with the matter. In the meantime, we know of cases of Zimbabweans who have been convicted of having dual citizenship, like the former Finance Minister Chris Kuruneri.

‘Since it is silent on that, if the new constitution is adopted, a person can have both a Zimbabwe passport and a passport of another country and can move freely in the country without being arrested. But you will simply not be recognised as an individual who holds dual citizenship until Parliament deliberates on it,’ Mavhinga added.

The current constitution is explicit on dual citizenship. Part IV of the chapter of the constitution, drawn up during the Lancaster House talks in London just before independence, states that ‘subject to this section, no citizen of Zimbabwe who is of full age and sound mind shall be entitled to be a citizen of a foreign country.’

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