Sunday, July 10, 2011

Dual citizenship:

Citizenship for diaspora will wait a bit

Tanzanians living abroad will have to wait a bit for them to hold the long-awaited "dual citizenship," as the issue is a union matter and has constitutional inclinations that need to be resolved before taking it on board.

Addressing the third Diaspora stakeholders’ coordination forum here yesterday, Permanent Secretary in the ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation John Haule said that the matter needs to be discussed between Tanzanian Mainland and Zanzibar.

This is because the issue needs to be braced by the two governments before allowing Tanzanians in the Diaspora to hold dual citizenship,” the PS said.

He also noted that the matter has constitutional inclinations, hence for it to be applied it needs to be resolved through the forthcoming constitutional making process.

According to Haule, the government was interested in the matter brought on board as soon as possible because of its socio-economic potentialities.

"We’re regretting to lock out Tanzanians overseas during the 49 years of our Independence, while some African countries have been granting dual citizenship to their people,” he said.

Before making the matter operational, there is a need for enacting a law that will allow Tanzanians to hold dual citizenship, he added.

For years, many Tanzanians in the Diaspora have been complained that lack of such a law has been working to their disadvantages, denying them opportunities they could access if they were citizens of the countries where they work.

The official further said that the government was taking the issue of Diaspora very seriously as an important cornerstone towards the country's development.

"We've mainstreamed the issue in our development this case, we're are trying to engage them in the development," he said, adding that the Diaspora engagement process needs to be enhanced and promoted.

He however noted that lack of statistical data on Tanzanians working/living abroad has remained a challenge that needs to be resolved. 

"The only thing we think it can help to address this issue is for those in the Diaspora to come up with their own associations and register them in our embassies," he said.

Commenting on the matter, Special Seats MP Leticia Nyerere asked the government to fast-track the issue of dual citizenship because of its potentiality to the welfare of Tanzanians and their socio-economic development.

She wondered why the government has been dilly-dallying on this important matter, which offers diverse opportunities for those in the Diasporas and those at home.

I have been struggling in Parliament to make this matter understood and become operational but     all  in vain. It is high time the government worked seriously on it,” the legislator said.

Leticia observed that there are more benefits than loses in dual citizenship for developing countries like Tanzania.

I am sure if this matter will be allowed, people’s wellbeing will be dramatically changed for the better as more investment will be flocking into the country,” she said.

She explained that there are hundreds of Tanzanians who went to America longtime ago and their children who were born there are not recognized as Tanzanians because of the citizenship law.

These are important people who need to be given citizenship status and start contributing to the country’s economy through investment and diverse skills on different fields of development,” she observed.

A recent research carried-out by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation on the matter shows that Tanzanian experts working abroad have been contributing immensely to the host countries.

Rehema Mtingwa of the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) asked the government to create an enabling environment for investors from Diaspora to easily invest in Tanzania.

She said that there is also a need for the government to reduce the costs of doing business, in order to encourage Tanzanians working/living abroad invest their money back home.

The participants who attended the forum discussed the best ways to engage and involve Tanzanians in Diaspora in the national development process.

The meeting was a follow-up to the first and second stakeholders’ coordination meetings held between January and June, last year.

It brought on board players from the public and private sectors as well as stakeholders from other four East African Community partner states.

Source: Lusekelo Philemon of The Guardian of Tanzania

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