Rattigan and Others v. Chief Immigration Officer and Others

Applicants are female citizens of Zimbabwe married to alien husbands. Their husbands must renew their residence permits and are thus at risk for deportation. As a result, Applicants and their families are unable to freely establish a permanent and stable family life in Zimbabwe. Applicants therefore sought relief from the High Court, claiming that the refusal to grant their husbands permanent residence violates the freedom of movement provision in Section 22(1) of the Zimbabwe Constitution. They further argued that by denying their husbands permission to permanently live in Zimbabwe, the state equally denied the women’s right to establish a place of residence. The immigration law thus indirectly restricted women’s freedom of movement, as they were required to follow their husbands in order to secure the family bond.

This decision was subsequently reinforced in Salem v. Chief Immigration Officer and Others (1994) (2) ZLR 287 (S).  The Salem Court held that a woman’s constitutional freedom of movement is violated when she must leave the country to follow her husband in order to secure the family’s livelihood. The Court also held that the immigration law is discriminatory and adversely affected those wives who were partially or wholly dependent on their alien husbands for support.