Harare, May 16, 2014 – Two Bulawayo residents are relieved after an intervention by the country’s leading human rights defence group, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) compelled the country’s Registrar-General to issue them with passports.
The two Bulawayo residents Edna and Margaret Silundu, who are sisters, had struggled to obtain the travel documents as they were considered to be “aliens” by Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede’s office.
Edna and Margaret were born in Zimbabwe in the 60’s to a Zimbabwean mother and a Zambian father, who had migrated to the southern African country when it was still known as Southern Rhodesia. Having been issued with Zimbabwean identity cards and regarding Zimbabwe as their home, the two were surprised when Mudede’s office refused to issue them with passports due to the country’s complicated citizenship laws that were rendering some people “stateless”.
But the intervention by ZLHR lawyer Nosimilo Chanayiwa and Lizwe Jamela, who wrote a series of letters to Mudede’s office and threatened to institute legal proceedings has yielded some results as they explained that the Registrar-General’s office was misinterpreting the legal provisions governing citizenship issues as Section 35 (3) (b) entitles all Zimbabwean citizens to passports and other travel documents.
The engagement of Mudede’s officers finally paid off recently resulting in the issuing of the passports to the two sisters.
In a statement, ZLHR said it was “elated” that Ednah and Margaret had finally secured travel documents which would allow them to exercise their right to freedom of movement.
Apart from Edinah and Margaret, several Zimbabweans among them labour unionist Raymond Majongwe and Canadian based Sebastian Piroro have struggled to obtain passports after Mudede’s office refused to issue and renew their travel documents which had expired.
The two had to resort to legal action to compel Mudede’s office to issue them with passports.