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Zimbabwe High Court Finds For Publisher, Orders Passport Restored

A Harare high court judge ordered the Office of the Registrar General and the Home Affairs Ministry on Thursday to abandon their efforts to strip independent newspaper publisher Trevor Ncube, a government critic, of his Zimbabwean citizenship.

Ncube publishes the Standard and Zimbabwe Independent weekly newspapers, as well as the weekly Mail and Guardian in South Africa. The government of President Robert Mugabe has passed strict media laws and shut down newspapers which criticized the administration, most notably the Daily News in 2003.

Ncube's lawyer, Stanford Moyo, said Justice Chinembiri Bhunu characterized as “alarming,” the state allegation that Ncube violated the country's Citizenship Act by failing to renounce the Zambian citizenship it said he inherited from his father.

Ncube's father was Zambian-born, but had acquired Zimbabwean citizenship, and Ncube himself was born in Zimbabwe.

The court ordered the Registrar General to renew Ncube's passport within seven days of receipt of a service order, which Moyo said would be submitted on Friday. Bhunu ordered the state to pay higher punitive costs as a mark of his displeasure.

Ncube argued that the registrar's attack was false, personal and unconstitutional.

Ncube told reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA's Studio 7 For Zimbabwe that he was particularly pleased with the high court decision because it will set a precedent for millions of Zimbabweans who are facing similar official scrutiny of their status.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...