Monday, December 11, 2023

With Dual Citizenship Bill, Constitutional crisis is inevitable

The Dual Citizenship Bill has precipitated a constitutional crisis and will lead to chaos if it goes ahead as planned, The Telegraph has established.

The Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs, Edwin Batshu confirmed that the Bill has been deferred to an unspecified date to allow government to look into various Acts under different Ministries that were likely to be affected by the Bill.

According to Batshu, it has been discovered that thus far, the Bill in its current form, has the potential to negatively affect 34 pieces of legislations that fall under the purview of various Ministries.

According to information turned up by The Telegraph, should the Dual Citizenship Bill pass in current form, it would see a number of Batswana who are interested in  adopting dual citizenship being barred from voting.

Observers warned recently that should the Bill pass in its current form it is likely to have negative effects on voting rights, especially where the Electoral Act disqualifies voters.  

The Act in question states that: “No person shall be qualified to be registered as a voter who- is, by virtue of his own act, under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power or state.”

The result is that, Batshu explained, parent ministries have been advised to make consequential amendments to various pieces of legislations; amendments which follow as a consequence of the envisaged Dual Citizenship Act.

In July this year, an Australian cabinet minister was forced to step down from his position after discovering he was made a dual Italian citizen without his knowledge.

The Australian Resources minister, Matt Canavan was the third Australian politician in two weeks to fall victim to the country’s little-known dual citizenship clause, after two Greens party senators resigned earlier in July.

Just like Botswana’s constitution, the Australian constitution bars anyone who has citizenship in another country from standing for election.

Responding to The Telegraph queries, Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) Public Relations Officer Osupile Maroba said “The issue on Dual Citizenship Act is a Constitutional matter and the Constitution is the Supreme Law, therefore any amendment therein informs amendment to the subsidiary legislation in relation to the affected section(s) of the Constitution.”    

He said the need for the amendment of the Electoral Act will be informed by the outcome of the proposed amendment in the Citizenship Act.

“Bills of this nature are circulated to allow relevant Ministries, Departments/Institutions to make submissions regarding the proposed amendment. The IEC as one of the critical stakeholders was consulted and as such made submissions regarding the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2017 in relation to some sections in the Constitution and Electoral Act on electoral matters,” he said. 


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