Thursday, 17 November 2016

CHOMBO PROPOSES CITIZENSHIP CHANGES

THE Minister of Home Affairs Dr Ignatius Chombo is proposing to amend citizenship clauses in the Constitution as part of legislation reforms.

If the constitutional amendment is adopted, this would be the first time the country would have revised parts of its constitution that came into force in 2013.

Dr Chombo, in a prepared response submitted to Parliament on his behalf by the Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement, Dr Douglas Mombeshora during Wednesday’s Question and Answer session, said the proposed constitutional amendments had already been forwarded to Government.

“The Ministry has made submissions to Government for amendments of certain provisions of the Constitution of Zimbabwe regarding the Citizenship Law. As such, we therefore await the said amendments to the Constitution,” said Dr Chombo.
The Minister did not give more details on the proposals.

Dr Chombo was responding to a written question by Zanu-PF MP for Kadoma Central, Cde Fani Phiri, who wanted to know procedures being taken by Government on the status of people considered to be “aliens”.

According to chapter three of the Constitution, a person can be a citizen of Zimbabwe by birth, descent, or registration. It says citizens by birth are persons who were born in Zimbabwe provided that when they were born either their mother or their father was a Zimbabwean citizen or any of their grandparents was a Zimbabwean citizen by birth or descent.

On citizenship by descent, the Constitution says: “Persons born outside Zimbabwe are Zimbabweans by descent if, when they were born either of their parents or any of their grandparents was a Zimbabwean citizen by birth or descent. Or either of their parents was a Zimbabwean citizen by registration and the birth is registered in Zimbabwe in accordance with law relating to the registration of births.”

One can be a citizen by registration if he or she has been married to a Zimbabwean citizen for at least five years and satisfies conditions prescribed by an Act of Parliament.

Citizenship by registration can also be acquired by any person who has been continuously and lawfully resident in Zimbabwe for at least 10 years and also satisfies conditions prescribed by an Act of Parliament.

It can also be granted to a child that has been adopted by a Zimbabwean citizen.
Meanwhile, Dr Chombo also told MPs that Government would work to ensure that identification documents are accessible to citizens to enable them to register as voters ahead of the 2018 general elections.

He said Government may consider reviewing downwards the amount of money charged to citizens who lose their national identity documents.

“As a Ministry and working through the Registrar General’s office, we will work hard and be prepared to give Zimbabwean citizens who apply for documentation to get those documents. This will enable them to register as voters if they attain the legal age of majority,” the Minister said.

“What I know is on an annual basis we have people who would want to acquire these national documents but have problems in travelling long distances to acquire the documents.

“Hence, we have a mobile registration exercise which will go to the people in their various districts so that they can access the documents.” Chronicle

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