Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (no. 17) Bill, 2005 (hb , 2005) – Representations made by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum to the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs
Source: Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum
“Clause 20 of the bill
Under paragraph 3(1)(b) of Schedule 3 to the Constitution, adults who have been lawful permanent residents of Zimbabwe since the end of 1985 are entitled to be registered as voters and to vote in parliamentary and presidential elections. Clause 20 of the Bill will repeal this provision, thereby disenfranchising those voters.
The history behind paragraph 3(1)(b) is that when dual citizenship was abolished, many persons of foreign origin — mainly farm-workers who had come, or whose parents had come, from Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia —were deprived of their Zimbabwean citizenship because they had failed, through ignorance or inertia, to sign the prescribed form renouncing their foreign citizenship. Paragraph 3(1)(b) was enacted in 1990 to ensure that they were not deprived of their vote as well as their citizenship.
There is no explanation of the clause in the Bill’s memorandum, so the Forum does not know why it has been put into the Bill. The Government may believe that the people concerned have all become Zimbabwean citizens, and that there is no longer any need to keep paragraph 3(1)(b) in the Constitution. If that is the reason, then with respect it is wrong. In 2003 the Citizenship of Zimbabwe Act [Chapter 4:01] was amended13 to allow people who were born in this country, but whose parents came here as migrant workers from a SADC country, to “confirm” their citizenship of Zimbabwe by signing a special form renouncing their foreign citizenship. Regrettably, the amendment was published after most of the people concerned had already lost their Zimbabwean citizenship,14 so there was nothing for them to “confirm”. The amendment did not have retrospective effect
If the paragraph is repealed, these people will no longer be entitled to vote. That will be grossly unfair, because they are all long-term residents of this country, many of them were born here, and most belong to the poorest sections of our society. Their foreign origin should not be held against them, and to do so amounts to a form of discrimination that is prohibited under section 16 of the Constitution.”
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