BY CHARLES LAITON
Supreme Court judge Justice Nicholas Mathonsi has come hard on registrar-general Clemence Masango, who has been denying returning Zimbabweans citizenship status, saying the move by his office is discouraging investment.
Justice Mathonsi made the remarks in a High Court judgement in a matter in which a 66-year-old Kadoma farmer, Christina Janet Veitch, who was born and bred in Zimbabwe while it was still Southern Rhodesia, had her identity card forfeited by the Registrar-General’s office.
Veitch was ordered to prove her status and entitlement to the country’s citizenship because at one point she left the country, but returned in 1987.
Veitch has been living in Zimbabwe, but when she visited the Registrar-General’s office in Kadoma in 2017, the officials refused to confirm her citizenship, arguing she must prove her status and entitlement.
“It has not been suggested in this case that if indeed the applicant was a Zimbabwean citizen at some point, such citizenship was ever revoked for any reason,” Mathonsi noted.
“Neither had it been suggested that there would be any cause for revocation.
“All that has happened in this case is that the respondent (Masango) has been intransigent and without conducting any meaningful investigation of the applicant’s status
“It is disappointing that the matter of such magnitude involving the constitutional rights of a fairly elderly person has been allowed to come this far without officialdom appearing to care.
“This has happened at a time when government is on record for encouraging even foreigners to come and invest in Zimbabwe and has been pleading with those of our people who are in the diaspora to return and work for the development of the economy.
“Surely, there is need for introspection within the first respondent’s offices if government’s efforts are to bear fruits.”
Mathonsi said the behaviour of the officials involved in the case was questionable.
“If indeed the applicant is not entitled to citizenship or is not a citizen, she must be told so and that conclusion can only be arrived at after through investigation of the case,” he said.
“It is not enough for officials who are employed and paid to handle citizenship issues to sit back and demand those that seek assistance must do their work for them.”
The judge ruled that Veitch was entitled to Zimbabwean citizenship and a passport.