17 May 2017

Zimbabwe: Mudede's Anti-Diaspora Push Finds No Takers

Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede's intended bid to scrap dual citizenship among Zimbabweans has failed to find takers from across the country's political divide with Zanu PF loyalists even more scathing in his condemnation of the controversial bureaucrat's beliefs.

Mudede was last week quoted as having told a Zanu PF parliamentary caucus that government had no intentions of aligning the country's Citizenship Act with new Constitutional provisions prescribing dual citizenship.

Instead, Mudede said, government will seek to abolish the provision, much to the disadvantage of millions of Zimbabweans now based abroad but still keeping close family ties back home.

The RG said these were attempts to curb challenges associated with tax evasion, dodging justice, human trafficking, international terrorism and immigration control, among other reasons.

But the comments invited strong resentment from Zimbabweans both at home and abroad with MDC-T deputy president Nelson Chamisa saying this was driven by attempts to block the much talked about Diaspora vote.

Party spokesperson for Bulawayo and former legislator Felix Mafa accused Mudede of being among top civil servants keen to "hijack roles that are not their mandate".

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) similarly also accused the Zanu PF led government of cherry-picking laws to align with the new supreme law while side-lining the rest.

"It appears that the government of the day has deliberately chosen to ignore constitutional provisions that it is not comfortable with, while waiting for an opportunity to bring in amendments to the constitution in a way that brings the entire reluctant approach to the alignment of laws into question.

"The construed opposition to dual citizenship by the government is a violation of constitutionally guaranteed human rights and insensitive to the context of Zimbabwe and its big Diaspora population," said the rights group.

Zanu PF attack

But the most scathing of comments emanated from no one other than a Zanu PF loyalist himself.

Writing in his column in the Herald, Zanu PF UK chairman Nick Mangwana described Mudede's thinking as "dinosaurian, retrogressive and dogmatic".

He accused the top civil servant of attempts to bring back archaic thinking of the 1950s adding that the RG's main target were Zimbabweans of Malawian and Zambian descent who settled in the country some decades ago.

"This is Trumpism packaged as super-patriotism. Zimbabwe should reject this type of archaic thinking with the contempt it deserves," Mangwana said while drawing parallels with US President Donald Trump's recent attempts to block Islamic migration into his country.

"The pronunciation made by this top civil servant who is our long serving Registrar General comes with far reaching consequences for future generations from these communities.

"It betrays some antiquated linear thinking and lack of consultation on his part..."

Mangwana also accused Mudede of failing to consult widely around the contentious subject adding that his assertions made a mockery of President Robert Mugabe's recent claims Zimbabwe was the second most developed country in Africa.

Disenfranchising millions

He said only a few countries recognised dual citizenship in the 1950s but this has changed over the years.

"It is narrow thinking to disenfranchise millions of Zimbabweans and future generations on a whim or ideas frozen in the 50s," Mangwana said.

"And this at the same time the person is saying we should abandon birth control to boost our population! What confusion or confused self-destruction.

"...Africa now has about 40 countries out of 54 allowing dual citizenship. Does it make sense that the second most developed country in Africa would choose such antiquated ideas?"

The outspoken politician said, "expatriate communities are an opportunity not threats".

"Dual citizenship is not some sort of political bigamy. It is a fact of population mobility. And this can only increase," he said.

"...We are grappling with the ignorance of xenophobic attitudes adopted by some South Africans. Now we have our own top civil servants making equally time frozen toxic assertions against our fellow Zimbabweans with foreign heritage.

"No RG, you missed the progress boat. It sailed on. We are trying to build a modern-day Zimbabwe where people live in the current time. We cannot surrender it to anachronistic views underpinned by yesteryear's discredited dogmatism."

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