Activist dodges Mugabe travel ban

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The Independent Online

Judith Todd, the Zimbab-wean human rights activist stripped of her Zimbabwean citizenship by the Mugabe regime, was due to arrive in Cape Town last night.

Ms Todd, daughter of the former Southern Rhodesian prime minister Garfield Todd, was travelling on a New Zealand passport, a last resort to enable her to travel. She is fierce critic of Robert Mugabe.

Though born and bred in Zimbabwe and entitled to have her Zimbabwean passport renewed, she has been harassed and finally denied citizenship. Authorities in Zimbabwe had granted her permanent residence status, but she fears the Mugabe regime may revoke it.

"They have given her the residence status now," a friend, Malcolm King, said. "Otherwise she would not have been able to travel. She has not fled at all."

Ms Todd was forced to apply for the New Zealand passport so she could attend a memorial service to her father in London. In a statement earlier yesterday, Ms Todd accused Mr Mugabe's government of stripping the rights of foreign descendants opposed to the regime.

In 2002, Ms Todd won a prolonged court battle to get her passport renewed after the Mugabe regime had passed draconian laws stripping most whites of their rights to Zimbabwean citizenship. Mr Mugabe had accused the whites of conspiring with his black enemies to overthrow him.

But, the registrar general, Tobaiwa Mudede, appealed against the High Court ruling in the Supreme Court which is pro-Mugabe. Mr Mudede agreed to issue Ms Todd with a one-year temporary passport. The Supreme Court later ruled that Zimbabweans holding a second nationality must renounce it for their Zimbabwean citizenships to be valid.