Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Hundreds of citizens ditch Botswana over strict dual citizenship law

Hundreds of Batswana have denounced their citizenship over the past decade as a result of the government’s anti-dual citizenship legislation.

Faced with the choice between Botswana and another country, at least 463 Batswana have chosen the alternative since 2014.

Minister of Labour and Home Affairs Anna Mokgethi confirmed the numbers last week, saying they were not in a position to tell why Batswana were ditching the country in such high numbers. Indications are that the government has not bothered to know why dual citizenship holders prefer alternative countries over Botswana.

“Citizens are not expected to state the reasons as to why they are desirous of renouncing Botswana citizenship since the mandatory requirement for renunciation of citizenship is that one has to prove that he/she has acquired some other citizenship so as to avoid rendering him/her stateless. My Ministry therefore does not have data regarding the reasons why citizens renounced their Botswana citizenship and left the country.”

Only minors can hold dual citizenship until the age of 21 when one would have to choose between Botswana and the other country.

Member of Parliament for Selibe-Phikwe West, Dithapelo Keorapetse unsuccessfully tabled the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2020 calling on the government to consider allowing Batswana to hold dual citizenship.

He argued that Botswana should allow dual citizenship to assist advance the economy and raise the national flag through giving citizenship to people with extraordinary abilities and skills.

Keorapetse said when debating the motion that this could boost the country’s international image and help bolster its economic prospects.

“Government, through the Ministry of [Labour and Home Affairs Nationality] should implement the Law of Return for all Batswana who are now citizens of other countries but wish to return to Botswana,” Keorapetse said.

Answering a question from MP for Ngami Caterpillar Hikuama last week Mokgethi also said literature indicates that generally, migration in Africa is mainly characterized by cross border movements mainly through intra African movement of persons from one region of the continent to the other for a variety of reasons.

“It is estimated that 80% of the migration takes place within the continent. As a country that is faced with unique and complex migration challenges, Botswana has since taken heed of the call for a comprehensive approach to migration. As a middle income country, Botswana is a country of origin, transit and destination for various categories of migrants which include amongst others, tourists, business persons, migrant workers, refugees and asylum seekers. Current information indicates that there are 792 refugees and 143 asylum seekers in Botswana.”

Mokgethi said information from her Ministry indicates that since 2014 to date 139,700 foreign nationals were issued with permits (Permanent Residence Permits, Exemption Certificates, Residence Permits and Botswana Blue Card) for stay in Botswana. “According to the records, currently 64, 310 valid permits are being held by foreign nationals (54,621 Residence Permits; 5,431 Exemption Certificates; 4,194 Permanent Residence Permits; 64 Botswana Blue Cards).” The Minister said her Ministry does not have data on Botswana nationals or citizens who left the country for both economic and political reasons from 2014 up to now. “This is primarily because citizens who exit Botswana are not expected to state the reasons for their departure.”

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