Friday, January 24, 2014

Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation minister Bernard Membe: Government for dual citizenship

By Waryoba Yankami

The government has said that it is high time now for Tanzania to allow dual citizenships so as to enable the Diasporas contribute to the country’s development in terms of income and expertise.

It has been said that many wealthy and well educated Tanzanians living abroad fail to contribute to national development because they are denied the right to dual citizenship.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation Bernard Membe said this when he was launching a new outreach project for Tanzanians living abroad prepared by the Tanzanian Diaspora department and International Organisation for Migration (IOM) called on all citizens, politicians and academics to support the inclusion of dual citizenship in the new constitution. 

The project dubbed ‘Enhancing the Migration Evidence Base for the Development of Tanzania’ is funded by IOM and International Development Fund (IDF).

Membe dismissed claims that dual citizenship will affect national security, saying it is a wrong assumption because the national security can be tempered by people living in the country and not the Diaspora as they don’t know much about what is happening back here.

“A regular citizen living abroad cannot be a traitor, except leaders and people living here who know many issues concerning the country’s security,” he said.
According to Membe, many Tanzanian experts living abroad have the desire to support development initiatives but fail due to the fact that the country doesn’t allow dual citizenship. 

He said countries allowing dual citizenship have managed to get a lot of money from them because they are able to return what they earn abroad.

He said Ghana Diasporas contribute USD 2.1 billion annually, Nigerian USD 3.1 billion, and Kenya USD 1.6 billion. He said Tanzania has about 2 million people living abroad but they contribute less than USD 100,000.

He said the Diaspora could contribute to education and health sectors as well as in expanding investments in the private sector and create employment opportunities.
The launch of the project follows the government ’s request for the IOM’s technical and financial support to promote enhanced coordination amongst ministries on migration matters.

In 2011, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, John Haule said Tanzanians living abroad would have to wait a little longer to have dual citizenship because the issue is a union matter and has constitutional implications that needed to be resolved before taking it on board.

Haule said the matter needs to be discussed between Tanzanian Mainland and Zanzibar. He however said the government was interested in the matter because of its socio-economic potentialities. 

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