BULAWAYO – A High Court judge has declared a Bulawayo lawyer born of foreign parents a citizen of Zimbabwe in a landmark ruling certain to come as a relief to thousands of individuals denied citizenship in the last five years because their parents were originally not Zimbabweans.
In a judgment delivered last week, Justice Tedius Karwi ordered Zimbabwe’s Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede to recognise the lawyer, Joseph Sibanda as a Zimbabwean citizen with all privileges, duties and obligations attaching such citizenship and to also issue him with a passport. The 43-year old Sibanda was born and bred in Zimbabwe but his parents are originally from Malawi. He appealed to the High Court after Mudede’s office refused to issue him with a passport saying he was Malawian by birth and should first renounce that citizenship before he can qualify for Zimbabwean citizenship and passport.
Zimbabwe’s Citizenship Act bars dual citizenship and requires foreigners wishing to become citizens of the country to first renounce their foreign citizenship in accordance with the law of the foreign country. The controversial law also disqualifies from being Zimbabwean citizens millions of people who migrated from Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique to settle in Zimbabwe many generations ago mostly as farm labourers. Even their children born and bred in Zimbabwe are also disqualified from automatic citizenship unless they renounce their indirect citizenship of other countries through their parents.
In his ruling, Karwi said that Sibanda, who held a Zimbabwean passport before, was “a Zimbabwean citizen with all privileges, duties and obligations attaching such citizenship.” –