Saturday, June 6, 2020

Dual citizenship takes centre stage in parliament

BY CEDRIC SWANKA

While consultations for the Citizen Amendment Bill dealing with dual citizenship have been put on hold for further consultations, Government is considering new mitigations to ensure those affected are not discriminated against their Botswana heritage.

Earlier in the year government introduced a process called renunciation of citizenship done by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

Children born to a Motswana and a foreigner are considered to have dual citizenship of both parents until the age of 21 years.

Affected individuals at the age of 20 years are expected to inform the ministry in writing to state their intention renounce their dual citizenship and choose the citizenship they want to keep – process which must be completed before turning the age of 21.

Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender affairs Ngaka Ngaka told Parliament that any consultations regarding the Citizenship Amendment Bill dealing with dual citizenship had been put on hold as they had observed that dual affect 34 other pieces of legislation.

Minister Ngaka has however shared that his ministry is considering introducing a new card to help those affected by the cancelling of dual citizenship and help them gain access into the country.

In an interview with Sunday Standard Minister Ngaka said “most Batswana who have renounced their citizenship did so because they got married to foreigners and moved to countries that do not allow dual citizenship. These are people who grew up here, their parents live here and their heritage is here in Botswana.

Foreigners who come here are given a ninety day permit and so are Batswana who have renounced their permits. For example if one is coming into the country to visit a sick relative nobody knows when they are going to get better we cannot put a time period on their sickness,” Minister Ngaka.

“We realised that since they are born here, we would be infringing on the rights of our people to live in a place where their ancestors originate. Also it does not give us any economic benefits or benefits of some sort, once they come and go, they are gone for good. As the Ministry we have the Botswana BlueCard. The Botswana BlueCard is not a type of permit that would require stamps for it to be renewed or allow the person to continue being in the country for ninety days. It is a type of residence card to Botswana. When one gets married and leaves the country we give them the Botswana BlueCard,” Minister Ngaka said.

Information gathered by The Sunday Standard has shown that the Botswana BlueCard may turn out to be exclusive to Batswana married to foreigners, living outside the country and have renounced their Botswana citizenship. However the card is yet to be presented but there may be other conditions considered for other Batswana to be given the card.

Minister Ngaka said: “the Botswana BlueCard when introduced will gives those in possession access into Botswana, anytime dependant on how long they want to stay and will not be given three months like normal procedure. Finer details surrounding the Botswana Blue card have already be done and it has been published in past Government Gazettes. The next thing to do would be to introduce it to the public.”

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