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Peace, prosperity, economic empowerment – Citizenship, Civil & Political Rights

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The fact that the Constitutional Amendment Number 20 that became effective on May 22 is landmark legislation is not in dispute.

Mutumwa on Tuesday with Mutumwa Mawere

With its birth, the expectation that the class of rights that protect individuals’ freedom from unwarranted infringements by State and non-State actors and ensure citizens’ ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination and repression that independence sought to bring into life; is legitimately justified.

The constitution requires that voting rules and procedures be applied equally to all citizens and more significantly that all citizens by birth be accorded the same rights and duties.

The liberation struggle had less to do with the government empowering citizens with opportunities than seeking to recognise the universality of civil and political rights by among others protecting citizens from any act or acts of discrimination on grounds such as race as well as promoting and protecting rights of participation in civil society and politics.

It was expected that the Chief Protector and Promoter of citizens’ civil and political rights in the post-colonial era would be the first son or daughter of Zimbabwe i.e. President of the Republic.
In human civilisation, civil rights were naturally among the first to be recognised and codified and in many countries including Zimbabwe, they are constitutional rights and are, therefore, included in a bill of rights.

Civil rights are considered to be natural rights as correctly observed by Thomas Jefferson that: “a free people claim their rights as derived from the laws of nature, and not as the gift of their chief magistrate.”

So in late December 2012, George Charamba, the Secretary of Information and more significantly the Spokesperson of the “Chief Magistrate” of Zimbabwe remarked as follows: “Mawere’s, oh Mutumwa! He is exactly that, is he not — a messenger! I thought his sender was going to more and more come to the fore. But that is now highly unlikely, given the clownish beginning of the whole project. This column shall disclose who the sender was, but as a small detail of a bigger history, much of it done for comic relief. He has to answer one simple, even humorous one: he has created a party to vie for elections in which country? Is he not better dealing with post-Mangaung South Africa, his adopted country? Of course MDC-T will continue to pilfer icons and traitors indiscriminately, hoping by some chance to hit an emotive trigger” he sought to use the power and authority that his boss borrowed from the people to challenge a universally accepted principle of citizenship that my rights in relation to Zimbabwe are no different from his as any claim to such rights must be derived from the laws of nature and not a gift of Zanu PF or its “Chief Magistrate”.

It is clear from the above that Charamba sought to make the point that by acquiring the citizenship of South Africa, I had no right to be part of the political and civil society of Zimbabwe.  Such a position was supported by the Citizenship Act of Zimbabwe that prohibited dual citizenship.

What is ironic is that at the material time when he chose to add his voice to the dual citizenship matter, a draft constitution was in place and included in it was the abolishment of the prohibition of dual citizenship for citizens by birth.

Even Charamba would agree that the source of President Robert Mugabe’s power and authority comes from the people and, therefore, an expectation that he would be the first one to defend the rights of citizens is not misplaced and illegitimate and yet in the interpretation of the citizenship provisions of the new constitution he chose not to appear in court leaving the attorneys of the Registrar General and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to appear and attempt to defend the indefensible.

It is significant that not only did the President choose to stay away from the debate, but his colleagues in the inclusive government have chosen to be silent leaving me to pursue the matters as if it is a personal crusade.

The fact that I had to approach the Constitutional Court (“CC”) for an order compelling Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede, to comply with the constitution well after the gazetting of such constitution into law on May 22 goes a long way towards confirming the selective, hypocritical and contemptuous attitude by state actors to constitutionalism.

On June 26, the CC ordered as follows:
l The Applicant, Mutumwa Dziva Mawere born on January 11 1960 is a citizen of Zimbabwe by birth in terms of Section 36(1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 20).

The 1st Respondent (Mudede) is interdicted from demanding the Applicant to first renounce his foreign-acquired citizenship before he can be issued with a national identity document.

The first Respondent is directed to issue the Applicant with a national registration document forthwith and in any event before the voter registration process being conducted by the second Respondent in terms of Section 6(3) of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution.

Not withstanding the above order, Charamba in an article entitled: Zimbabwe: Curing the Grand Headache wrote as follows: “At the time of writing, Mutumwa Mawere was trying to register, I don’t know with what result. It explains his frenetic quest for dual citizenship, hopefully to double his chances of presidency: here in Zimbabwe, the land he doubts, there is South Africa, the home he borrows.

Does he remember our altercation, that altercation he thought he had won through my calculated silence? Today vengeance is mine, and I can goad and irritate him, at a time answering back will prove too costly.

True to his surname, he is an eleventh hour entry, very sure to skid down the slope! Kumawere.”

Charamba who has developed a habit of abusing the power of the people in the defence of the “Chief Magistrate” believes that he and his lot have a better claim to the rights entrenched in the constitution.

When I approached the Registrar-General’s office prior to the enactment of the constitution, I genuinely believed that the attitude to the Republic had changed to reflect the will of the people of Zimbabwe who voted for the adoption of the constitution.

I had no idea that the resistance; to the direction given by the people that citizens by birth must be treated equally and that no other state organ has the power to prohibit dual citizenship; would come from civil servants.

It is clear from Charamba’s choice of words above that he does not regard me as a genuine citizen.

He carefully chose the word “trying to register” to expose his attitude to the whole enterprise of political participation that independence and indeed the new constitution sought to entrench.

He also makes the point that he did not know why I would try to register to vote as if to suggest that political participation must only be exercised in prescribed circumstances.

In any democratic society, the likes of Mudede and Charamba would not be welcome in government for a view that questions a citizen’s motive to be part of a political community and seek to express his or her will in an election undermines the political morality on which such a society ought to be founded.

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