Zims get Moz passports via voter reg scam

Zimbabwean nationals and people of foreign descent are taking advantage of loopholes in the Mozambican voter registration to fraudulently acquire that country’s citizenship. Investigations have revealed.

Registration for aliens to vote in Mozambican elections scheduled for October 15 is taking place at several centres around Zimbabwe. The embassy is asking aspiring voters to produce national identity cards issued in Zimbabwe and marked “Alien” – and people using this opportunity to acquire Mozambican citizenship.

According to evidence produced during the 2008 and 2013 elections in this country, thousands of people of local origin as well as those from Malawi and Zambia have ID cards marked “Alien”. These documents were issued from the early 2000s when the Zimbabwe government revoked the citizenship of people of foreign origin – in an attempt to disenfranchise many who were believed to support the MDC.

The new constitution that was adopted last year re-installed their citizenship, and many have since acquired Zimbabwean IDs and passports.

Investigations by The Zimbabwean established that many Zimbabweans of foreign descent have already successfully acquired Mozambican nationality, but have done so un-procedurally.

While the new constitution permits dual citizenship, the government must be notified, but this is not happening.

In the Mozambican voter registration exercise, those who produce IDs showing they are aliens are being issued with voter cards. They then proceed to obtain a temporary travel document to enable them to travel to Mozambique for their passports. The process takes a day or two.

Those wishing to register who don’t have ID cards must produce birth certificates showing they are from Mozambique. But sources say those who don’t have any form of documentation are being assisted to acquire them once they convince the officials that they are from Mozambique.

Many Zimbabweans told this newspaper that they were taking advantage of the exercise, which ends on April 14, to ensure that they get a passport that does not give them any hassles when travelling abroad.

“The Mozambican passport is easier to use when one travels to Europe unlike the Zimbabwean on,” said a source at the embassy in Harare.

“The vetting process is easy. The officials asked me where I came from in Mozambique and I told them I had no idea. They gave me the voter’s card which I then used to get an emergency travel document. I am going to get my passport from Mozambique once I get the $70 fee,” said Dennis Kamba from Epworth, a Zimbabwean national whose identity card was wrongfully marked “Alien”.

Sources said some people were illegally changing their IDs to indicate that they were aliens in order to get Mozambican citizenship.

The President of the Mozambicans in Zimbabwe Association, Raul Mhlanga, said loopholes in the vetting process would promote crime.

“People will take this as an opportunity to migrate from one country to the other when they commit crime and it is a potential disaster for both Mozambique and Zimbabwe,” he said.

In the past, carjackers, robbers and murderers have found safe haven in Mozambique, while others have moved into other countries via Zimbabwe’s eastern neighbour.

Added Mhlanga: “There are a lot of our nationals who are in this country illegally and the majority of them are afraid to come to the embassy for documentation. We want our nationals to formalise their stay here and also take part in the country’s national processes.”

While the embassy did not respond to e-mailed questions, an official, speaking anonymously, said they were encouraging their “nationals” to acquire Mozambican citizenship even though they might already be documented as Zimbabweans.

“Their roots are in Mozambique and I am sure that they would love to belong to their country of origin. We want to register everyone so that they can take part in their country’s national processes,” he said.

The Mozambican local media reported last week that out of the estimated 9 million voters, nearly 3 million prospective voters registered for October’s general elections, five weeks after the voter registration exercise started.

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