Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter
The Constitutional Court said there is need to urgently align the immigration regulations in Zimbabwe with the new Constitution that allows dual citizenship to avoid breaches of citizens’ rights to free movement. Justice Chidyausiku passed the comments as the Constitutional Court was hearing the case in which Dr Farai Madzimbamuto — son to the late national hero Cde Daniel Madzimbamuto — is seeking freedom to travel and live in Zimbabwe with his South African passport without applying for residence permit.
Judgment in the case was reserved.
Dr Madzimbamuto is a medical practitioner who lectures at the University of Zimbabwe.
He is seeking declaration that he is truly a Zimbabwean citizen and to have his South African passport endorsed to show he is a citizen of this country.
It was the court’s view that it is unconstitutional for Zimbabweans with dual citizenship to be treated like aliens, who have to apply for temporary residence permits whenever they travel to Zimbabwe.
The Chief Justice said the immigration regulations were not compliant with the new Constitution.
“The immigration regulations are very clear but they are not compliant with the new Constitution. A citizen does not require a residence permit when entering Zimbabwe despite the fact that he or she holds a foreign passport.
“Asking such persons to apply for permits is tantamount to treating them like aliens, which is a breach of their constitutional rights,” he said.
Justice Ben Hlatshwayo, who was part of the nine-member bench, called for the alignment of the immigration regulations with the Constitution.
“There is need for the Department of Immigration to come up with speed and align the regulations with the new regime of dual citizenship,” said Justice Hlatshwayo.
Mr Samuel Pedzisai from the Attorney-General’s Office based his arguments on the immigration regulations which the court said had been overtaken by events.
He insisted that Dr Madzimbamuto would only be treated as a citizen of Zimbabwe when he uses a Zimbabwe passport but loses the status when he uses the South African one.
“While dual citizenship is allowed under the new Constitution, one cannot be allowed to wear two hats at the same time.
“If you are using a South African passport, you have to get a permit when visiting Zimbabwe and if you are using the Zimbabwean one, there will not be any need for it,” he said.
Dr Madzimbamuto was born in Zimbabwe in 1956.
His father was the late Cde Madzimbamuto while the mother was Mrs Stella Madzimbamuto (nee Nkolombe).
The mother was of South African origin.
Dr Madzimbamuto’s troubles started in 2003 when he decided to go to South Africa for locum duties in a bid to raise school fees for his two children
Dr Madzimbamuto had challenges renewing his Zimbabwean passport that was about to expire while in South Africa.
That prompted him to apply for a South African one.
His identity crisis started when he approached the Registrar-General of Zimbabwe’s offices seeking a new passport, but his efforts hit a brick wall.
His request to have his South African passport endorsed to communicate that he was indeed a Zimbabwean citizen was also turned down by the immigration department resulting in him approaching the courts.
When the new Constitution was adopted in Zimbabwe he put pressure on the Registrar-General until he got his passport but the Department of Immigration refused to make an endorsement on his South African passport.