Saturday, August 30, 2014

TANZANIA: Dual citizenship rejected

By Aisia Rweyemamu

Members of the Constituent Assembly (CA) yesterday appear to have made a stand over the dual citizenship proposal after officials from the Immigration Department were called in to give a lecture on the subject.

Information gathered at CA premises in Dodoma after the meeting between the two sides was concluded had it that Immigration Department officials rejected the idea, saying it would compromise national security and turn people to become unpatriotic to the nation.

The departmental officials, who made their exit through the back door of the debating chamber ostensibly to avoid reporters, met representatives of the Diaspora who strongly argued in favour of the proposal.

This is another milestone in the issue, following the long tug of war and debate over the dual citizenship agenda.  The government has pushed the subject and other national authorities affirmatively rejected the proposal wherever it has been mooted for consideration.

CA members in the meeting proposed consideration of some special status to those living in the Diaspora in the constitution but not dual citizenship as they requested.

Security and patriotism reasons were among the factors which caused the dual citizenship proposal to be rejected by the CA members.

Yesterday two commissioners from the Immigration Department conducted a special training to Constituent Assembly (CA) members on the impact of dual citizenship whereby in their presentation they did not mention any benefits of dual citizenship.  The commissioner’s presentation was based on negative impact of dual citizenship, and after the presentation the commissioners refused to talk with reporters.

Speaking to reporters at Parliament grounds soon after the meeting, representative Kadari Singo from the Diaspora said “we are disappointed with the Immigration Department stand, and we are not persuaded of rationality of the reasons provided.”

“We are not happy because our dream of having dual citizenship has been scuttled by the position by the government,” the representative declared.

Singo told reporters that patriotism is not determined by the location but it’s all about personal issues, that there are people living in the country and they are not patriotic. So why is this applied to Diaspora residents in particular, he wondered.

“There are number of public officials who take money from the country and invest it abroad while the Diaspora takes money from abroad to Tanzania. Who then are the more patriotic among the two?” he demanded.

Singo also asked how the dual citizenship issue will threaten national security, while there a number of foreigners in the country were offered citizenship.

The Diaspora representative maintained that the group is not happy with the presentation because it was based solely on negativity, which shows no positive impact of the Diaspora which is not true.

Singo questioned the government proposal to offer them special status, saying they are supposed to have a citizenship status that is clear for residents of the Diaspora to understand. 

The Diaspora brings a lot of money into the country, he said, citing example of  Kenya that gets about $1.7  billion from the Diaspora, Uganda obtains more than $900m in ex-Diaspora inflows annually while Nigeria obtains an estimated $20 million, and about 34 per cent of Lesotho Gross Domestic Product is contributed by the country’s Diaspora. 

The Diaspora residents complain that the country discriminates against those residing outside when it comes to citizenship while foreigners obtain rights in their countries of origin.  The country’s laws favor foreigners and discriminate citizens opting to reside outside the country, he said.

The representative talked about there being more than ten models of dual citizenship, and thus the government can choose one which is suited for the country purposely for protecting the rights of those living in the Diaspora.

Singo asked why the government completely refused all of these proposed models while they can choose the best models for the national interest. 

How can Tanzania deal with unemployment challenges if the government puts restrictions to the Diaspora, he asked.

The country should protect the right of Diaspora residents because rejecting them means denying the Diaspora as part of the country, he emphasized.
Due to the government’s position dual citizenship is removed, and thus they propose to be given a special status.

Among factors that contributed to being denied dual citizenship was the issue of the Zanzibar Revolution as they believed that it will allow those who ran away during the revolution to come back in the country.

Hamad Masaun, the Deputy Chairman of CA committee No. 11 said that Zanzibar issues helped to reach the rejection of dual citizenship.

Meanwhile, last week the CA formed a sub-committee to come up with solutions of some issues which brought contradictions during discussions of CA committees.

Among the issues were dual citizenship, Kadhi courts, structure of Parliament and the joint finance committee.

Source: The Guardian (Tanzania)

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