By Byron Mutingwende
The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) says the indication by the government to amend the constitution exposes its lack of will to implement the supreme law adopted in 2013.
“We are deeply concerned with efforts and intentions by the State to scrap dual citizenship by amending Chapter 3 of the Zimbabwean constitution. 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,” CiZC said in a statement
The coalition of CSOs said recent statements by the Registrar General, Tobaiwa Mudede that the government will not seek to align the Citizenship Act to the new Constitution on dual citizenship (arguing that it posed security threats to the country) confirmed that government the was not committed to implement the constitution in its current state.
It said the utterances by the Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede were part of a bigger ploy to disenfranchise Zimbabweans living in the diaspora as the country heads towards the watershed 2018 elections.
The hastiness by the government to amend the constitution and the second attempt to amend the constitution since 2013 was seen as a ploy to bring to life the rejected ZANU-PF amendments proposed to COPAC (regarding citizenship) in August 2012.
CiZC was appalled by such undemocratic and discriminatory tendencies by government considering that the new Constitution is a new document, which was an outcome of extensive input of the majority including Zimbabweans living in the diaspora.
They said that Chapter 3 of the Constitution was clear about dual citizenship, indicating that one may become a citizen of Zimbabwe by birth, descent or registration. Our reading of Chapter 3 is broadened by the Declaration of Rights in Chapter 4 Section 67 (3) (a) guaranteeing the right to political participation. As CiZC we contend that amending Chapter 3 of the Constitution is a political move aimed at causing confusion regarding the citizenship status of Zimbabweans in the diaspora ahead of the 2018 elections. Such a move also has potentially catastrophic consequences for the country’s citizens some of whom are citizens by descent.
With an estimated three million Zimbabweans living in the Diaspora due to the country’s economic and political crises among a myriad of other reasons, it is of utmost importance that the government adheres to the Constitution as a means of ensuring that its citizens in the diaspora remain Zimbabweans with full citizens’ rights, they said.
“It is imperative for the government to note that the majority of its citizens are residing globally in countries such as South Africa, Namibia, Botswana Australia, USA and the United Kingdom among others and they are now holders of dual citizenship. However, these nationals have remained Zimbabweans remitting close to US$2billion 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.”
CiZC urged the government to expend its energies on aligning legislation to the constitution and immediately abandon all intentions to amend the constitution barely four years after its adoption.
The CSOs said their collective view was that the proposed amendment to Chapter 3 of the Constitution was in similar fashion with the proposed Constitution Amendment Bill No.1 of 2017, which seeks the rebirth of the Lancaster House Constitution and its undemocratic tenets; and therefore implored the government to protect its citizens from such travesty.