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Thursday, 26 June 2008

Dual Citizenship - Part 3 : The case for dual citizenship....

Neo Simutanyi presents the most forceful case yet for including dual citizenship in the Zambian constitution :

A few weeks ago, the Citizenship Committee of the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) unanimously resolved to recommend to include dual citizenship in the Zambian constitution. The resolution provoked mixed reactions from the Zambian public.

Some prominent Zambians, such as former republican vice-president Christon Tembo and chief immigration officer Ndiyoyi Mutiti opposed the recommendation on grounds of national security. For Christon Tembo, dual citizenship would compromise national security as those involved may have problems of conflicting allegiances, while Ndiyoyi Mutiti argued that dual citizenship will increase crime as criminals will easily run away to another country for safety.

Proponents of dual citizenship, who include former chief justice Mathew Ngulube, argue that it is desirable given globalisation, the increase in cross-national marriages and the inevitable migration to other countries in search of better economic opportunities. There are also those who argue that there are many Zambians who have had to give up their citizenship of the country of birth for economic reasons and which becomes a disincentive for them to invest and have closer links with their home country.

Further, the children born of Zambian parents abroad who automatically acquire citizenship by birth tend to lose out the benefits of belonging to the country of their parents. There is also the difficult choice of having to choose between the nationality of one of the parents in the case of having parents with two different nationalities.

To be sure, dual citizenship presupposes the possession of two citizenships at the same time. Today, the combination of certain citizenship laws automatically allows certain individuals to acquire two nationalities at the same time.

Dual citizenship is a growing phenomenon in today's increasingly global community. While many countries have historically been opposed to dual citizenship status, dual citizenship has grown more common in the last thirty years. One of the main reasons for this proliferation is that new technologies have helped to dramatically increase travel, communication, and international commerce.

The opposition to the notion of dual citizenship is informed by a less appreciation of the African and Zambian reality. It should be recognised that largely many Africans and even Zambians tend to have multiple identities.

They belong to particular tribes/ethnic groups, are members of particular districts and provinces and citizens of a particular country. In cases of cross-ethnic and cross- national marriages, children will tend to have dual identities, of their parents. For example, children from a Lunda and Tonga parents cannot be expected to choose between the identity of one of their parents.

They belong to both and often have rights of residence and enjoy all rights of belonging to that social group. They enjoy rights of citizenship from both their father and mothers side. But this is not the case with children born of parents of different nationalities. The child is made to choose the nationality of one of the parents, as the Zambian constitution does not encourage dual citizenship.

The current dual citizenship debate in Zambia should be understood within the context of global trends. It should be recognised that in the last fourty years, Zambia has been home to tens of thousands of people from other countries who have come here to work, by virtue of marriage or due to social ties with Zambian nationals.

Some of these people have lived in Zambia for most of their lives, but do not want to cut links with their home country. Thus they have remained established residents without citizenship rights. It would be wrong to doubt the patriotism of these men and women, who have made many contributions to the life and economy of this country.

There have been many non-Zambians who have made a tremendous contribution to this country in different ways. I do not agree with the argument that dual citizenship necessarily poses a national security problem. If anything, it will only help enhance a sense of belonging on those of our compatriots who have had to make the difficult choice of renouncing the citizenship of their country of birth.

The decision by the Citizenship Committee of the NCC is most progressive and deserves our support. It reflects global trends encouraging dual citizenship for economic, social and cultural reasons. I am particularly opposed to a decision to strip a Zambian of his/her citizenship simply because of having acquired the nationality of another country.

In my view citizenship rights should be non-negotiable and should be revoked under very exceptional circumstances. This is because one’s nationality forms their primary identity and as such, they should continue to hold it, irrespective of their decision to acquire the citizenship of another country for economic or social reasons.

There are at least 40 countries in the world that recognise dual citizenship and nine of them are in Africa. These include, the Australia, India, United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Israel, Italy, South Africa, Burundi, Mali. There are discussions in Kenya, Ghana, Rwanda and Uganda on dual citizenship.

It is now recognised that allowing dual citizenship encourages foreign investment as foreigners are assured of enjoying citizenship rights, while not losing identity of their countries of origin. In some countries, one can be granted citizenship if they come with investment of a certain amount. The success of Australia, Canada and the United States is partly because of the policy of encouraging dual citizenship and flexible nationality laws.

There is no doubt that nationals in the diaspora who could have acquired the citizenship of the host country for convenience can also identify more closely with their home country if they do not have to lose their original citizenship. There is evidence that points to the fact that the Philipines and India, among others, have more than a million of their nationals working and living abroad, who transfer millions of dollars to support their families back home and undertake investments. In my view, dual citizenship provides an incentive to identify more closely with the home country.

In the case of Zambia, it should be recognised that tens of thousands of our nationals have fled the country for many reasons, which include fear of political persecution, marriage or to seek economic opportunities or a combination of these. It is important that we ascertain the number of Zambians who have left the country in the last twenty years and are living abroad and how many of them have had to renounce their citizenship. Further, it is important to establish the extent of remittances from Zambians living abroad.

Politicians have continued to call on Zambians living abroad to return and make a contribution to the Zambian economy. But the problem that has not been addressed is that most of these may have acquired the citizenship of their host countries and may have forfeited their Zambian citizenship rights. I hope the plenary of the NCC will adopt the proposal to introduce dual citizenship in our constitution. We need a constitution which is inclusive and stripping our nationals of their citizenship should not be entertained.

Further, we should also encourage other nationals to feel welcome in our country by granting them dual citizenship so that they can develop a sense of belonging.

There is simply no evidence to suggest that dual citizenship poses a danger to national security nor increases crime. If this was the case, large and highly developed countries, such as Australia, Canada, United Kingdom and United States would not be promoting such a policy. As a Pan-Africanist who believes in an African identity, I believe that the encouragement of dual citizenship is a progressive idea which will provide the building blocks to the transition to a common African citizenship.

Those opposed to dual citizenship may have difficulties accepting the notion of African citizenship. But they should be reminded that the African Union is moving towards political union, which will include not only the removal of visa restrictions, but the creation of a United States of Africa with a common African passport.

We need citizenship and nationality laws that are more inclusive and take account of Zambia’s historical, social and cultural heritage on one hand and the dynamics of globalisation on the other hand. Dual citizenship should be an unobjectionable and unstoppable phenomenon given our multiple identities and we should reflect that in our national law.
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6 comments:

  1. A good piece from Neil as usual.
    I really do not know why this is an issue in this day and age. Zambia does not stand to lose in any way by allowing dual nationality. The cold war is over, communism has collapsed and capitalism has triumphed! We all now reside in an interconnected global village and it seems retrogressive to be raising national security as an excuse against dual nationality.

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  2. There is evidence that points to the fact that the Philipines and India, among others, have more than a million of their nationals working and living abroad, who transfer millions of dollars to support their families back home and undertake investments.

    Once again, India does not allow dual-citizenship. Instead they have OCI which is like a special status for foreigners of Indian origin that eases up travelling (a long life visa) and gives some economic rights.

    And that's a country with a huge diaspora.

    In my view, dual citizenship provides an incentive to identify more closely with the home country.
    There is no doubt that nationals in the diaspora who could have acquired the citizenship of the host country for convenience can also identify more closely with their home country if they do not have to lose their original citizenship

    and

    Some of these people have lived in Zambia for most of their lives, but do not want to cut links with their home country. Thus they have remained established residents without citizenship rights. It would be wrong to doubt the patriotism of these men and women, who have made many contributions to the life and economy of this country.

    I don't get how these two parts fit together.
    1.Both Zambians abroad and Foreigners in Zambia would "identify" more closely with Zambia if they were citizens ? But they can be as of right now. They would just have to renounce their other citizenship which of course they won't. So they only care so much.

    2. If foreign nationals living in Zambia indeed contribute to national life without being citizen, what exactly prevents the former citizen in the diaspora from doing the same ?

    3. How sensitive is the Zambian diaspora, really ? They won't send money home because they renounced their citizenship ? That's a bit emotionnal... Western Union doesn't ask for your citizenship and neither the Zambian government nor Zambians will refuse your money because you're now a foreigner. The link between contribution and citizenship is not so obvious. I bet plenty of former Zambians are doing just fine.

    it should be recognised that tens of thousands of our nationals have fled the country for many reasons, which include fear of political persecution, marriage or to seek economic opportunities or a combination of these

    Actually, in the comments in another post, someone mentionned that dual-citizenship through marriage is authorized.

    This debate is odd in a way because it's all about laundry lists of situations in which dual-citizenship should be allowed with the conclusion "it should be allowed".

    Wouldn't it be better if the debate was about which situations make sense and which don't ?
    I mean children of inter-national marriages are not in the same situation as say Zambians who moved to New Zealand and voluntarily and knowingly renounced their Zambian citizenship.
    And as far as the economic issue, wouldn't a status like the one in India do the trick ? A special life long visa for foreigners of Zambian origin ?

    (that said, national security is still a dumb excuse. no one is saying dual citizen will be generals in the army. one can limit what a dual citizen can do, for security reasons)

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  3. "There are at least 40 countries in the world that recognise dual citizenship and nine of them are in Africa. These include, the Australia, India, United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Israel, Italy, South Africa, Burundi, Mali. There are discussions in Kenya, Ghana, Rwanda and Uganda on dual citizenship."--Neo.

    The United States may not be a good example of a country that has no limitation on dual citizenship. Here is how a person ordinarily becomes a dual citizen of the United States and another country: a child who is born in the United States to foreign parents has United States dual citizenship since the child is automatically a citizen of the United States and a citizen of his or her parents’ home country. This also applies to children of United States citizens born abroad where the child is both a United States citizen and a citizen of the country of birth.

    The same situation applies to Zambia, where Article 5 of the 1996 Republican constitution reads as follows: "A person born in or outside Zambia after the commencement of this Constitution shall become a citizen of Zambia at the date of his birth if on that date at least one of his parents is a citizen of Zambia" until he or she is no longer a minor, at which stage he or she must make a decision about one’s citizenship.

    Countries worldwide generally provide for such dual citizenship, although there is the potential of loss or cession of such citizenship for a variety of reasons. In the United States, for example, Section 349 of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 specifies several conditions under which U.S. citizenship may be lost. These include: (a) becoming a naturalized citizen of another country, or declaring allegiance to another country, after reaching age 18; (b) serving as an officer in a foreign country’s military service, or serving in the armed forces of a country which is engaged in hostilities against the US; (c) working for a foreign government (e.g., in political office or as a civil servant); (d) formally renouncing one’s U.S. citizenship before duly authorized U.S. officials; or (e) committing treason against, or attempting or conspiring to overthrow the government of, the U.S.

    Similarly, Article 9 of the current Zambian constitution has stipulated conditions for cession of citizenship as follows: (1) a citizen of Zambia shall cease to be such a citizen if at any time he acquires the citizenship of a country other than Zambia by a voluntary act other than marriage or does any act indicating his intention to adopt or make use of such citizenship; and (2) a person who (a) becomes a citizen of Zambia by registration; and (b) is, immediately after he becomes a citizen of Zambia, also a citizen of some other country shall ... cease to be a citizen of Zambia at the expiration of three months after he becomes a citizen of Zambia unless he has renounced the citizenship of that other country, taken the oath of allegiance and made and registered such declaration of his intention concerning residence as may be prescribed by or under an Act of Parliament.

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  4. National Security? This is a lame argument for one to make inj opposition to dual citizenship. America is one country that has a lot at stake but do you hear them opposing dual citizenship based on national security? No. Globalization is real and people just need to come to grips with it and realize that we're becoming one big family and therefore, need to able to take advantage of citizenship rights in other countries as well.

    I think Neil makes a good point with the United States of Africa comment. Zambia has to be thinking of what will become of its citizenship restrictions in an Africa without boaders (I don't even like the idea of a united Africa beause many would find it hard to co-exist with other people in the union-remember Rwanda?).

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  5. Neo and Lumbila,

    Zambia actually provides for dual citizenship for minors in Article 5 of the 1996 Republican constitution, which reads as follows: "A person born in or outside Zambia after the commencement of this Constitution shall become a citizen of Zambia at the date of his birth if on that date at least one of his parents is a citizen of Zambia."

    Questions:
    What are the "benefits" of dual citizenship that are alluded to in Neo's article? And what are the "rights of residence"? The "rights of belonging to a social group"? The "rights of citizenship"?

    There is a need to use words carefully so as not to confuse the people about "rights," for example.

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  6. Fascinating questions and viewpoints all around, as usual.

    Random,

    While I will admit to relying heavily on the Indian experience for much of my musings on potential positive directions for Zambia, I cannot view the diaspora experiences as equivalent. Having lived in industrial cities in various countries, there is a tangible difference between being Irish in Liverpool or Polish in Chicago and being Zambian or Nepalese in either of them. India's diaspora is so enormous and widespread that they now comprise more than 50% of the ethnicity of the island of Fiji. India's government has little incentive to track or claim responsibility for the tens of millions of expatriates and their children which they could claim under other nation's rules. Other than a relative handful of Tibetans, there are few foreign nationals seeking Indian citizenship for themselves or their children.

    Kyambalesa makes a very important point about the dual status of children, because not every country is so responsible. The UN currently has tens of thousands of passports issued to "stateless" children, and increasingly adults now as they age and citizenship becomes increasingly difficult to obtain. These individuals have been born between the cracks where national systems don't quite mesh with one another. For example, the matrilineal nature of Japanese citizenship traditions combined with Filipino rules based on geographical birthplace, results in stateless offspring if born on Japanese soil to a Filipino woman not married to a Japanese father. A quick glance at estimated demographics within the Japanese sex industry indicates that this one international "loophole" encompasses a surprisingly large group, and potentially hundreds of thousands of children [in actuality likely far fewer, but there's almost no documentation, that's the point].

    For my part, I guess I wonder what the cost/benefit analysis brings to the argument? Would Zambia reap more from otherwise unincorporated citizens than it would expend on those same persons as a result of constitutional or legislative requirements? Complex question, especially if the amount expended on a citizen via government programmes and offices impacts on the amount that individual and/or their offspring are willing and/or able to contribute to the common welfare.

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