Dear President Mugabe,
IT has come to my attention, through social media, that remarks were attributed to you regarding my relationship to Zimbabwe. I have not been able to access the source material but there is an article penned by Dr. Alex Magaisa under the title: “President Mugabe is grossly misinformed on the law of dual citizenship in Zimbabwe,” published on his online blog on 23 May 2016.
In the said article, reference is made to a report broadcast on ZiFM Stereo radio station as captured by @ZimMedia Review, a news review service. It was reported that you told students at Fort Hare University, your alma mater, that: “Once you take up the citizenship of another, you cancel your citizenship. We don’t accept multiple and/or dual citizenship.”
I have also asserted the point that no man can rise above the limitations of humanity but there exists a crystalized view that you, as President of Zimbabwe, know or ought to know the universe of what is to be known.
Even Dr. Magaisa has conceded that you may have been misinformed to be the author of the statement attributed to you especially having regard to the process and the outcome of the constitutional review process that led to the adoption and execution of the operative Constitution of 2013.
It is customary to expect a person in your position, more so, given that you are vested with the power to promote and protect, as the first citizen of the country, the constitution of the country.
Last week, I participated in activities celebrating the founding of the African Union (“AU”) in Yeoville, Johannesburg, home of many black African migrants in South Africa. I found it fitting to associate myself with the cause for the unity of Africa and its diverse peoples. For your information, I am a member of a not-for-profit organisation, The 1873 Network, whose founding principles include the idea of a borderless continent which was an objective fact in the year, 1873.
Regrettably, it would appear, based on statements attributed to you on the key questions of identity, nationality and citizenship that you don’t fully subscribe to the indivisibility idea that forms a keystone to the 2063 vision of the AU.
One would have expected your Excellency to know and act better given that you were a key participant in the struggle to make Zimbabwe a republic in which all men are equal before the law and, more significantly, having led the country since independence, one would have expected you to be an objective moral compass for the nation.Advertisement
It is always disappointing when a person you assume to know better about key nation building principles turns out to be uninformed. It would be simplistic to conclude that in making the statements that you made, you were grossly misinformed on the law of dual citizenship in Zimbabwe.
When the values, principles and ideas about citizenship that have informed your choices are taken into account, it becomes self-evident that in your mind, the idea of a black Zimbabwean born assuming the citizenship of another country is foreign and offensive to the ideas of sovereignty and patriotism that the struggle for independence sought to deliver. The constitution that gives legitimacy to your leadership is the very constitution that permits what you purported on South African soil is not permissible.
On 25 May 2016, you were joined by thousands of Zimbabweans in celebrating your role in the context of building a seamless Africa yet your purported utterances directed at me that: “I met him and he still speaks as if he is Zimbabwean, but he took up South African citizenship,” completely diminished the message that informed the purpose of the gathering.
South Africa and Zimbabwe are 2 of the 54 African nation-states. If the idea that the union of African states is applied at the individual level, then the absurdity of the statement that acquiring South African citizenship by a Zimbabwean born actor is a repudiation of the values of the AU becomes self-evident. South Africa is a host to millions of Zimbabweans and equally, Zimbabwe is a host of millions of persons of South African heritage.
Dr. Magaisa adequately dealt with the legal issues related to the law on dual citizenship and it would serve no purpose to repeat the sound arguments advanced, suffice to say that, after 36 years of independence, it is never too late to attempt to negotiate with you about what may be missing in your DNA.
South Africa belongs to all who live in it but given the mobility of human actors, it is the case that birth is one of many variables that determine the address of life. Equally, Zimbabwe belongs to all who live in it and not all who are born in it.
It is also the case that a human being cannot live in two addresses at the same time, perhaps a point that you sought to make but confused it with the provisions of the supreme law of Zimbabwe that is founded on the premise that birth does confer a right that cannot or should not be extinguished by the operation of any law.
You may not be aware that the act of acquiring the citizenship of another state is a private matter between the actor and the host country and the relationship is not ordinarily written in the face of the affected parties. It is common cause that at the transaction point, i.e. where and when the citizenship is granted, the Zimbabwean law is not applicable to effect of the purported cancellation that you are alleged to have spoken off.
How can you cancel citizenship in Zimbabwe in relation to facts and circumstances that can only occur outside the borders of Zimbabwe? I am sure you will agree that Zimbabwean law has no extra-territorial application. It would be absurd for Zimbabwean authorities to seek to enforce the laws of Zimbabwe in foreign jurisdictions.
To any rational person, the state statement that: “We don’t accept multiple or dual citizenship,” does not make any sense simply because when a person leaves Zimbabwe, they would only do so clothed with Zimbabwean travel documents. What then happens outside the territory of Zimbabwe would be hidden from the reach of the Zimbabwean laws.
Indeed, Your Excellency, you would recall that in 2004, an attempt was made by your administration to get me extradited to Zimbabwe on baseless allegations of externalisation. In the documents used to apply for my extradition, it was asserted boldly that I was a fugitive from Zimbabwean justice yet you now assert the opposite view that my relationship with South Africa could only have arisen out of a voluntary act.
You will also recall that in 1997, I hosted you and the late President Mandela in South Africa, prior to the abortive attempt to extradite me. Why would a Zimbabwean host you in South Africa without any ties to the host country?
There is no doubt that you are passionate about Zimbabwe and that you would wish that all black persons born in the country think and act like you. Indeed, you studied at Fort Hare University and thereafter lived and worked in Ghana. You nevertheless chose to go back to Zimbabwe and your story is well established.
However, even your children have had to make choices that defy your nationalistic instincts, including studying abroad and giving birth outside the borders of Zimbabwe. This is as it should be for all sovereign and random human beings.
I should like to believe that the struggle for independence was pursued to give life to the rights that no government can confer on living human beings and these unalienable rights include the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Happiness need not be pursued in the territory or specific place of birth. It is this right that you seem to assert in the mistaken belief that by being elected, you automatically assumed superior rights to comment and limit the rights of others including me to live and work where I choose to.
No man is a property of any government. I am sure you will recall our conversation with Professor Mutambara at the 2010 FIFA World Cup opening game when Professor Mutambara sought to make the same tired argument that all Zimbabweans living and working outside the borders of Zimbabwe ought to return to the country to help build the economy.
My answer then and now has not changed that when I decided to leave Zimbabwe in 1988 to go and work in Washington DC for the World Bank, I did so voluntarily and without the knowledge and assistance of any state actor and I also made the decision that my relationship with Zimbabwe in relation to returning to Zimbabwe will be made the same way that I made when I chose to exit the country.
I have chosen to write this open letter with no malice in it but to help you understand at the twilight of your life that the true purpose of independence could not have been to limit the rights of citizens but to allow citizens like birds to fly off wherever they believe in their self-interest they can best pursue the happiness that life can offer.
I did not choose to live in South Africa at the expense of any other country, including Zimbabwe. I am just living my life yet your government is guilty of passing a draconian law that has resulted in a significant loss of property and future of so many with impunity.
It is significant that although I acquired South African citizenship in 2002 or two years before the madness of your administration kicked in, resulting in so many man-made disasters of our generation, my name was associated with 20,000 jobs and 26 companies operating not in another planet but post-colonial Zimbabwe.
I am confident that your Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and your Minister of Finance, Patrick Chinamasa, would not want you to know the true nature of the Reconstruction of State Indebted Insolvent Companies Act and its predecessor statutory instruments that were used to allow madness to visit private companies in the name of some weird nationalism.
The real tragedy that seems to have visited post-colonial Zimbabwe is the belief that one man can be invincible and know everything. In this specific matter, it is clear that your personal views are not consistent with the views entrenched in the constitution that you took an oath to uphold that took away any power from a state actor to strip a person of his or her relationship with Zimbabwe that arose out of involuntary facts and circumstances.
I was born in Zimbabwe, and this is a fact, and no law known or created by man will change this fact. I sincerely hope that you will appreciate the danger that your personal choices and views cause to the growth and development of Zimbabwe.
After 36 years of independence, you will agree with me that it is unacceptable to see flights into Zimbabwe full of white people and buses out of Zimbabwe full of black people with one intention of never returning to the nightmare that Zimbabwe has been condemned to, not by evil imperial forces, but by the needless squandered opportunities that independence could have opened were it not for backward and redundant views.
As a grandfather now, I wish to take the opportunity of congratulating you and your family and I do hope that you will pause and correctly reflect whether the Zimbabwe of 2016 is really the Zimbabwe of our dreams or a humanly created nightmare in which we all should think deeply and critically about our own actions and toxic views on what life should be for all of us.