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Dual Citizenship in Zimbabwe

Obtain any registration documents in Zimbabwe is a nightmare. Government workers always make it tough to get any documents and often plead ignorance of any laws that apply to specific cases. It always helps to know the legal position before embarking on any interactions with government officers. My tip though, is don’t try and show you have too much knowledge though, be tactful, because they can decide to be hard on you because you think you are too clever, or as they say in Shona, wakangwarisa.

In Zimbabwe anyone (e.g guard) can have the upperhand at any given time, irreguardless of who you are, unless of course you can flash a priviledge card like a CIO card. I had situation where upon my return to Zimbabwe as a returning resident, the Registration Office refused to give me a passport. My passport had expired, and the office asked that I provide all sorts of documents proving that I. was returning to Zimbabwe, even though I am Zimbabwean citizen and did not have any other citizenship. They claimed that I should live in Zimbabwe for six months before I became a citizen, AGAIN! Wherr had my citizenship gone to??? It was missing in action! So at that given time, I was a citizenless person! To get over this hurdle, of being citizenless, they asked for letters from previous employers, bank statements, payslips etc. In short, they made it impossible for me to get a Pastor, and yet I WAS A CITIZEN OF ZIMBABWE!

The law on citizenship. Who is a citizen? Effect of the new Constitution Much of our citizenship law has not been changed by the new Constitution; there are still three types of citizenship: citizenship by birth, by descent and by registration.

Broadly speaking, under the new Constitution and under the previous law you are a citizen if: >You were born in Zimbabwe and your mother or your father was a Zimbabwean citizen, in which case you are a citizen by birth. [section 36(1)(a) of the new Constitution].
>You were born in Zimbabwe and neither of your parents was a Zimbabwean citizen, but any of your grandparents was a citizen by birth or descent again, you are a citizen by birth [section 36(1)(b) of the new Constitution].
>You were born outside Zimbabwe and either your mother or your father was a Zimbabwe citizen, you are a citizen by birth if your citizen parent normally lived in Zimbabwe or was working for the Government or an international organisation; if not, and your parent or grandparent was a Zimbabwe citizen by birth or descent, then you are a citizen by descent [section 36(2) of the new Constitution].
>You have been married to a Zimbabwean citizen for at least five years, you will be a citizen by registration if you apply for citizenship and satisfy any conditions prescribed in the Citizenship of Zimbabwe Act — [section 38(1) of the new Constitution] — no such conditions have in fact have been prescribed.
>You have lived in Zimbabwe for 10 years and your application to be registered as a citizen has been accepted by the Minister of Home Affairs you are a citizen by registration [section 38(2) of the new Constitution] — the 10-year period is fixed in the new Constitution, whereas the Citizenship of Zimbabwe Act required residence for only five years].
>You were adopted as a child by a Zimbabwean citizen and you have applied for registration as a citizen.
>You become a citizen by registration when your application is granted — and it must be granted] [section 38(3) of the new Constitution.

The new Constitution has made few real changes to our Citizenship Law: l As mentioned above, it has lengthened from five to 10 years, the period of residence required for citizenship by registration. Foundlings — i.e children under 15 who are found in Zimbabwe and whose parentage is unknown — are deemed to be citizens by birth [section 36(3) of the new Constitution]. It has conferred citizenship by birth on people who were born in this country and descended from Sadc citizens, so long as they were ordinarily resident in Zimbabwe on May 22 2013 [section 43(2) of the new Constitution] Under the previous law the position of such people was anomalous. They were in practice deprived of their citizenship and officially treated as aliens, on the ground that they were citizens of Sadc countries and had not renounced this foreign citizenship in terms of the law of those countries, as envisaged under section 9 of the Citizenship of Zimbabwe Act passed in 1984. Section 9 banned dual citizenship generally, and in 2001 was amended to require submission of proof to the Registrar-General of renunciation of foreign citizenship under the foreign law. Then, in 2003, there was an amendment to the Citizenship Act which allowed some people in the “Sadc origins category” — namely descendants of migrant unskilled workers — an alternative — to approach the Registrar-General to complete Zimbabwean forms to renounce their foreign citizenship and “confirm” their Zimbabwean citizenship. Many people in this category, especially agricultural workers who had been displaced, were unable to “confirm” their Zimbabwean citizenship by reason of not having the correct papers or sufficient resources to travel to registration centres, and for practical purposes they continued to be treated as aliens.

Under the new Constitution, however, these people are now citizens by birth. It has conferred citizenship as an absolute birthright on people born in this country; i.e. it permits citizens by birth to hold dual citizenship [section 42(e) of the new Constitution]. It has restricted the grounds on which citizenship may be revoked [section 39 of the new Constitution] and, as just pointed out, it has prohibited the State from revoking a person’s citizenship by birth, on the ground that he or she is a citizen of a foreign country. CITIZENSHIP BY BIRTH, DESCENT IS AUTOMATIC It should be emphasised that citizens by birth and descent are citizens automatically; their citizenship is not conferred by the Registrar-General, nor does it depend on the holding of a “citizen” ID document or a Zimbabwean passport. Obviously, in order to obtain those documents citizens must show they have all the qualifications for citizenship, but they should understand that when issuing them with IDs and passports the Registrar-General is not conferring a privilege on them: he is respecting their pre-existing rights of citizenship.

For clarity, all citizens of Zimbabwe (including citizens by registration) are entitled:
> To passports and other travel documents [section 35(3)(b) of the new Constitution].
> To birth certificates and national IDs [section 35(3)(c) of the new Constitution].
> To free, fair and regular elections [section 67(1)(a) of the new Constitution]; and,
> in the case of adults, to vote in elections (subject to being registered as voters) and to stand for public office [section 67(3) of the new Constitution].

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Categories: General
  1. sekai sibanda
    September 25, 2015 at 5:57 pm

    All this constitutional argument seems well
    but the zim homeaffairs refuses to give me a letter to support dual citizenship they said there. is no enabling act

    what can I do help

    • October 2, 2015 at 7:59 am

      Hello Sekai. I think you need to seek legal advice. Officers at Home Affairs are not always up to date with the changes in the constitution, or they just simply try and create a hurdle for you. All the best!

  2. September 22, 2016 at 6:51 pm

    I want to change my birth name as I don’t like it,how do I go about it and what is the cost and requirements of doing so thank you

    • November 8, 2016 at 3:56 pm

      Contact the registrars office.

  3. Shadreck Chare
    February 1, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    I want to change my id from allien to citizen

  1. June 26, 2014 at 10:09 am

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