Government tries to revoke Trevor Ncube’s citizenship


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The government was trying to revoke the citizenship of publisher Trevor Ncube because his father was born in Zambia. Zimbabwe did not allow dual citizenship.

Ncube said he had been told about this in October 2006 when he went to renew his passport. He said he was told by the immigration official that his Zimbabwean citizenship had expired”.

Ncube said he went to the Zambian embassy and renounced his Zimbabwean citizenship but when he returned to the department of immigration he was told that since his Zimbabwean citizenship had “expired” he had to apply to the registrar-general Tobaiwa Mudede.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 07PRETORIA150, ZIMBABWEAN GOVERNMENT ATTEMPTS TO REVOKE PUBLISHER

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

07PRETORIA150

2007-01-12 14:24

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Pretoria

VZCZCXRO6951

RR RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSA #0150/01 0121424

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

R 121424Z JAN 07

FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7668

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1101

RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0984

RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 0971

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0488

RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 0056

RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PRETORIA 000150

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/11/2017

TAGS: PREL PHUM ZI SF

SUBJECT: ZIMBABWEAN GOVERNMENT ATTEMPTS TO REVOKE PUBLISHER

TREVOR NCUBE’S CITIZENSHIP

 

Classified By: Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Perry Ball. Reasons 1.4(

d).

 

1. (C) SUMMARY. The Government of Zimbabwe is attempting to

revoke the citizenship of well-known publisher Trevor Ncube.

In blatant violation of international and Zimbabwean law, the

GOZ claims that Ncube is no longer a Zimbabwean citizen

because his father was born in Zambia. Ncube is challenging

the decision in court and expects he will ultimately prevail.

Ncube believes that elements of the GOZ security forces are

behind what he called an attempt to intimidate him, to

undermine his credibility, and to possibly close his

Zimbabwean newspapers, two of the three independent

publications remaining in the country. However, Ncube added

that the GOZ is not acting in a concerted manner toward him

and that he has received the support of a number of senior

GOZ leaders including the Attorney General. END SUMMARY.

 

2. (SBU) Speaking at his Johannesburg home on January 11,

prominent publisher Trevor Ncube described to PolOff the

Government of Zimbabwe’s attempt to revoke his Zimbabwean

citizenship. Owner of the South African newspaper the Mail &

Guardian, as well as two of the remaining three independent

newspapers in Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Independent and The

Standard, Ncube is an outspoken critic of the Mugabe regime.

 

————————

“No Longer a Zimbabwean”

————————

 

3. (SBU) Ncube explained that when he went to the Zimbabwean

Citizenship Office in Harare to renew his passport in October

2006 (because the pages in the current one were full), the

Government official told him that his Zimbabwean citizenship

had “expired.” The official cited a 2002 law, which says

that Zimbabwean citizens cannot be — or even have the right

to be — citizens of more than one country. (NOTE: the 2002

amendment to the Citizenship Act was designed to

disenfranchise thousands of white Zimbabweans who held

British passports, as well as hundreds of thousands of

commercial farmworkers whose parents or grandparents

originally came from Zambia, Malawi or Mozambique. Both

groups were perceived to be supporters of the opposition

Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). END NOTE.) Because

Ncube’s father was born in Zambia, he had a theoretical right

to Zambian citizenship. Ncube emphasized that he was born in

Zimbabwe, has held only Zimbabwean citizenship, and has only

traveled to Zambia briefly three times for business and

holiday.

 

4. (SBU) In response to the Citizenship Office request, Ncube

went to the Zambian Embassy in Harare where he renounced his

right to Zambian citizenship, then applied again to renew his

passport. The official told him that since his citizenship

had “expired,” he would have to apply to the Registrar

General Tobaiwa Mudede to “restore” it. Ncube wrote to

Mudede, only to receive a two-line fax at his Cape Town

office in early December informing him that he was “no longer

a Zimbabwean citizen” and thus should surrender his passport.

 

5. (C) Ncube has challenged the decision in the Zimbabwean

courts. Ncube’s lawyers assure him that the law is on his

side, and even the politically-tainted Zimbabwean courts will

ultimately have to rule in his favor. The case, however,

will likely take some time. In the meantime, Ncube has no

more empty pages in his passport and will have difficulty

traveling internationally.

 

———————

2005 Passport Seizure

———————

 

6. (SBU) The revocation of Ncube’s citizenship follows the

December 2005 seizure of Ncube’s passport at the Bulawayo

airport. At that time, Zimbabwean security agents told Ncube

he was on a list of 16 prominent Zimbabwean journalists and

human rights activists who were not allowed to travel in the

country. Ncube challenged the seizure in court, which

ultimately ordered the security officials to return his

passport and allow Ncube to return to South Africa.

 

———————————-

 

PRETORIA 00000150 002 OF 002

 

 

Motive to Intimidate and Discredit

———————————-

 

7. (C) Ncube believes that the Zimbabwean Government is using

these tactics to try to intimidate him, hoping that he will

tone down his criticisms of the regime. In the latest

incident to revoke his citizenship, Ncube believes the

Registrar General is acting on behalf of the Central

Intelligence Organization (CIO). In addition to the

psychological intimidation, the citizenship allegations may

also undermine Ncube’s credibility, allowing the GOZ to claim

that “Ncube’s not really Zimbabwean” so therefore his

criticisms of the regime are not valid. Ncube said that in

rumor-filled Zimbabwe, this charge will resonate with some of

the population.

 

8. (C) Assigning motives to the Government of Zimbabwe is

increasingly difficult, Ncube stressed. Decision-making is

disorganized and uncoordinated, reflecting the splits within

the ruling party and the disintegration of the Zimbabwean

regime. In his case, a number of senior GOZ leaders have

told Ncube that the Registrar General is wrong. The Attorney

General himself urged Ncube to file suit against the

Government.

 

——————————–

Attempt to Shut Down Newspapers?

——————————–

 

9. (C) Ncube suggested that some in the GOZ want to revoke

his citizenship as a way to close his two Zimbabwean

newspapers, the Zimbabwe Independent and Standard. Under

Zimbabwean law, a non-Zimbabwean cannot own more than 40

percent of a media company. Thus, if Ncube’s citizenship is

successfully revoked, Ncube would have to sell 60 percent of

the papers or close them. Ncube told PolOff that the problem

with selling the newspapers is that only ZANU-PF insiders

would have the money for the purchase, and he would never

sell to them. Ncube said he was pleased and surprised that

the state-appointed Media and Information Commission (MIC)

denied that they had any intention to close his newspapers.

He believes the MIC statement reflects the feeling among many

in ZANU-PF, including Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono, that

closing the newspapers would be a mistake because of the

negative international publicity.

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

10. (C) Since the GOZ’s closing of the Daily News in 2002 and

its expulsion of a number of prominent journalists as

“enemies of the state,” Ncube’s weekly Zimbabwe Independent

and Sunday Standard have been important beacons of government

opposition. Although circulation is only about 25,000, the

papers’ influence is much greater. The newspapers are far

more professional than their government-controlled rivals and

are widely read by Zimbabwe’s economic and political elite,

including government ZANU-PF officials.

 

11. (C) While the judicial system is susceptible to

governmental pressures, judges still on occasion render

anti-government decisions, particularly where the law is

clear. The courts may very well conclude that Ncube is in

fact a Zimbabwean citizen. And even if they rule to the

contrary, the Access to Information and Privacy Act (AIPPA),

which excludes non-citizens from mass media ownership,

provides a “grandfather” exception for individuals with

ownership interests as of January 2002. This exception

appears to provide a clear basis for the courts to rule in

Ncube’s favor with respect to his ownership of the papers —

should the issue get that far. In the final analysis, it may

well be that the Registrar’s actions are yet another instance

of petty government harassment, rather than a full-blown

attempt to close down the papers.

 

12. (U) This cable was drafted in coordination with Embassy

Harare.

BOST

(53 VIEWS)

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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