Zimbabwe: Cabinet Okays Citizenship Law Amendments to Bring Dual Citizenship

A Zimbabwean passport.
27 February 2019

CABINET on Tuesday approved amendments to the Zimbabwe Citizenship Bill to allow dual citizenship as part of the on-going process of aligning the country's laws with the 2013 national constitution.

The current Act prohibits the simultaneous holding of a Zimbabwean citizenship and that of another country by any citizen whereas the Constitution permits dual citizenship for those who are citizens by birth.

Addressing a post-cabinet media briefing in Harare Tuesday, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said cabinet approved "key provisions of the amendment including renaming of the Citizenship of Zimbabwe Act as Zimbabwe Citizenship Act."

Among some of the law's provisions, Mutsvangwa said, is the "Permitting of dual citizenship for citizens by birth and establishment of Zimbabwe Citizenship and Immigration Board to inter alia oversee the granting and revocation of citizenship by decent and registration.

"Prohibition of dual citizenship for citizen by decent and registration.

"And requirement of applicants for citizens by registration to have resided in Zimbabwe for 10 years, contrary to the current requirement of 5 years in terms of the current Citizenship of Zimbabwe Act."

Over the years, some citizens based abroad have been denied citizenship by the Registrar Generals' office and have always turned to the courts to try and resolve the matter.

An estimated three million plus Zimbabweans have left the country in the last two decades seeking better economic prospects abroad and have been disqualified from exercising their right to vote back home.

Speaking during the same meeting, Attorney General Prince Machaya said starting with last year's court challenge by South African based Zimbabwean businessman Mutumwa Mawere, the Constitutional Court has since clarified the issues.

"What is new or the aligned Act would be seeking to achieve is simply to incorporate what is already in the Constitution, into the Act and put in beyond any doubt what the law is," Machaya said.

"If one reads the current Act and one reads the Constitution, one can see very clearly that there is lack of consistency in some of the important provisions.

"So the principals presented today, make it clear that Act has to be amended in that respect and also a number of other respects so that it is consistent with the Constitution."

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