The citizenship question in Zimbabwe

Published: 19/Feb/2017
Eddie Cross says the Zanu-PF govt has been determined to deny anyone with foreign ancestry their birthright citizenship
I am a Zimbabwean Citizen and my African roots go back to 1867 when my Great Grandfather came out on a sailing ship and started a Baptist Church in a small town called Grahamstown in South Africa. The Church he built is still there – right in the center of town and if you go to the Museum you can see pictures of him and the Church.My Grandfather was a prominent South African and served his country in many capacities eventually serving in the South African government led by Jan Smuts through the Second World War, retiring when the Nationalists came to power in 1949. My father grew up in South Africa but moved up to Rhodesia in the early 30’s, travelling to Bulawayo by train – without even a passport. His first and only passport was one issued by Rhodesia and he held that until late in life when he was stripped of his citizenship by the new Zimbabwe Government after Independence. He died stateless after over 60 years working and living in Zimbabwe.

I have never had that problem but my wife, who married me in 1963, had her citizenship taken from her in 2005 and we had to fight her case in the Courts for two years before her status as a Citizen was restored. My son had so much trouble with the passport office that he eventually used the links to Ireland – through my great grandfather, to get an Irish Passport, a process which was completed over the Fax system without problem.

The reason for all this nonsense was a desire by the Zimbabwe government to deny anyone with foreign links the right to hold Zimbabwe Citizenship and therefore be able to vote. It not only affects white Africans like us, but many Africans who have links to other African States. The numbers affected are staggering – one third of all young Zimbabweans have no birth certificates and cannot get a passport or vote despite the fact that the new Constitution specifically sets out criteria for citizenship by birth or residence.

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Themes: Acquisition of nationality, Loss and Deprivation of Nationality
Regions: Zimbabwe
Year: 2017