Zimbabwe snatches Ian Smith's passport

By Time of article published Mar 27, 2002

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Harare - Former Rhodesian premier Ian Smith, who defied the world in 1965 when he declared self-rule from Britain, has been denied a new Zimbabwean passport until he renounces his British citizenship.

Home Affairs Minister John Nkomo denied claims by Smith that the government had stripped him of Zimbabwean citizenship, saying the country's last white leader was free to stay in Zimbabwe pending the normalisation of his citizenship status.

"In terms of the laws of Zimbabwe, if one or both parents are born outside the country, you need to renounce your right to the citizenship of their country of birth," Nkomo said on Wednesday.

"I understand he has not done that yet. He can still do that, but while he is doing that he is not entitled to a Zimbabwean passport. We have not stripped him of his citizenship," Nkomo added.

Smith, whose Zimbabwean passport has expired, accused the government of President Robert Mugabe of taking away his citizenship by refusing to renew his passport.

"I just learnt yesterday (Tuesday) that my citizenship had been confiscated. It has been taken away from me. This is totally unacceptable to me. After all, I was born here 83 years ago," said Smith, who turns 83 next month.

The move to deny Smith a passport comes almost two weeks after controversial presidential elections in Zimbabwe, widely condemned as unfair by the opposition, many local and foreign observers and Western nations.

The Zimbabwe government ordered citizens with dual nationality to renounce their British citizenship in 1984, a measure London never recognised.

Smith endorsed main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the March elections won by Mugabe.

Smith took what was then Rhodesia into white-run isolation in 1965, refusing black majority rule.

But a brutal seven-year guerrilla war led to a political settlement in 1979, which culminated in black majority independence in 1980.

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