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Constitutional Court faces another acid test

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SOUTH AFRICA-BASED Zimbabwean business mogul Mutumwa Mawere has made an urgent application to the Constitutional Court to stop  the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) from conducting the voter registration exercise until the issue of the citizenship status of Zimbabwean-born persons who are holders of foreign citizenship by registration is clarified.

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On May 17, Mawere applied to Registrar-General (RG) Tobaiwa Mudede for an identity document to enable him, among other rights, to register as a voter and subsequently participate in the forthcoming polls, but was turned down on the basis that dual citizenship was outlawed in Zimbabwe under the old constitution.

Mawere then wrote three letters to the RG asking for reinstatement of his Zimbabwean citizenship and stated that he would be forced to take the matter to the courts if it was not resolved.

Following Mudede’s failure to act, Mawere filed an urgent application to the Constitutional Court on Monday seeking redress.

He cited the RG as the first respondent, Zec, President Robert Mugabe and the Attorney-General as second, third and fourth respondents respectively. Mawere lost his citizenship after he acquired South African citizenship in 2002.

In the court application, Mawere claims the new Constitution signed into law by Mugabe last month provided for dual citizenship by descent.

He claims the RG had frustrated his efforts to assert his citizenship on the basis of an “erroneous interpretation and application of the law”.

Consequently, Mawere argues he has been denied rights he should enjoy as a Zimbabwean including “participation in politics” especially registering to vote so as to take part in the forthcoming  harmonised elections.

Mawere said last week’s Constitutional Court ruling ordering Mugabe to ensure elections are held by July 31 should be underpinned by the necessary institutional and legal framework to allow all citizens as now defined in the Constitution to be part of the process.

The businessman wants the court to compel the RG to “conduct his duties so as to ensure that in terms of Section 35(2) of the Constitution, all Zimbabwean citizens are equally entitled to the rights, privileges and benefits of citizenship by granting them with such documents as may be required from time to time”.

Mawere also wants Zec to be “interdicted from carrying on the voter registration process pending the adjudication of the main application clarifying the citizenship status of Zimbabwean-born persons who are holders of foreign citizenship by
registration”.

He also wants compensation for the alleged violation of his fundamental freedoms and universal rights by the RG and Zec.

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