Africa: The politics of citizenship

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A month ago or so I asked you to help us answer a few questions with respect to citizenship in your country.

Question 1. What African country are you from?

As you can see we had 67  responses mostly from english speaking African countries. The largest number of respondents were from Kenya, followed by South Africa. I am not sure why that is but I have wondered whether the level of internet penetration in those countries played a part.

Question 2. Does your country allow dual nationality 

I would like to draw your attention to the answers given by respondents from the Democratic Republic of Congo,  Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Some said that dual nationality is allowed, whilst others said it isn’t.

I have previously written about the situation in Uganda and as far as I understand it, dual nationality is permitted so long you purchase a special visa. The fee for the visa is unclear as some say it is US $300 whilst some say it is US $500, but either way many in the diaspora believe it is prohibitive and at the point of writing it is not clear if any Ugandan’s in the diaspora have paid this fee.

I was a little taken back by these results but not surprised. As I argued  in this post the diaspora are an important source of revenue for home countries, however that home countries have failed to harness the power of the diaspora to contribute to development outcomes. I am mindful that was a very small sample but, it seems to me that whilst African governments are keen to benefit from diaspora remittances, there are not keen on according them political participation.

Finally asked what else the respondents could tell us about the issue of nationality and citizenship, this is what some of the respondents had to say

Benin-000000;”>I am not aware of any harmful policy against Beninese diaspora except when one has political ambitions. it is worse elsewhere though 

Botswana- 000000;”>I was a dual Ghanaian and Botswana national. I had to renounce my Ghanaian nationality at the age of 18

Cameroon000000;”>Voting only allowed for diaspora who hold the National Identity Card, Passport or Consular Card

000000;”>Uganda -Diaspora can vote if they are registered and have a voter’s register. This means they must have come back home to register and they can only vote from within Uganda. Persons with dual citizenship cannot stand for some elective posts such as president. They also cannot hold key offices like VP, PM, head police or the army

Tanzania000000;”>Dual citizenship is considered under the new draft constitution

000000;”>Zambia dual nationality and whether to legalise it is a big topic for debate and might be passed into law but there is some resistance from government 

Zimbabwe- 000000;”>Until a year or so ago people were supposed to renounce their citizenship of another country if they wanted to retain Zimbabwean citizenship this was meant to frustrate people who had naturalised however this caused a major impact on the African migrant populace. The courts have been tested by the legislation. The legislation has also proved in effective. People naturalise elsewhere & retain their Zimbabwean citizenship only using their passport when travelling to Zim to avoid Visa fees

000000;”>Zimbabwe – All children under 18 are allowed dual citizenship for free. For adults over 18, you can be dual citizen if you are a Zimbabwean by birth only. All other groups the parliament of the day decides whether to grant dual citizenship or not.

Kenya- 000000;”>dual citizen is not allowed to run for political office, be it member of parliament, senate or presidency 

It is a pity that we had a small number of respondents but hopefully this will encourage folks to find out what their country’s position on the issue of citizenship is and or open up a debate about the politics of citizenship in African countries. Either way let’s keep the conversation going

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