It appears that the issue of dual citizenship is taking centre stage in the current constitution making process with erstwhile army commander and Vice President Christon Tembo and Immigration Department Chief Ndiyoyi Mutiti expressing security concerns if the provision is included in the new constitution.
One would understand the background Lieutenant-General Christon Tembo is coming from as head of the Zambia Army at the height of not only the one party state but at the time when Zambia faced apartheid South Africa as an enemy.
At that time, the country housed freedom fighters whom it had to protect by any means as they risked being smoked out, if that is the phrase, by the white South African soldiers.
Politically, the African continent was very unstable then with coups and counter coups being the norm and as a result undemocratic leaders of the time shut out of power not only citizens within the country but more importantly the “enemy” was seen to be one with foreign connections.
The government at the time thought that denying people dual citizenship was the solution. Unfortunately, it is this mindset that has been carried forward when the political state in Zambia in particular and Africa in general, has changed.
In the case of Mutiti, her fear for someone with dual citizenship committing a crime in one country and running away to another just shows “thought ossification” in the Zambian civil service. She should know about Interpol which does a great job of tracking criminals around the world.
Ms Mutiti should suggest to government to sign extradition treaties with countries where there would be a prevalence of dual citizenship for ease of tracking down criminals who would try to hide in other countries.
It appears General Tembo, Ms Mutiti and other politicians and civil servants do not understand the concept of globalisation even as they use it at public forums.
The World Bank describes globalisation as an inevitable phenomenon in human history that has been bringing the world closer through the exchange of goods and products, information, knowledge and culture.
“But over the last few decades, the pace of this global integration has become much faster and dramatic because of unprecedented advancement in technology, communications, science, transport and industry,” the World Bank states on one of its websites.
With the advancement of information and communication technologies (ICTs), some of the things an old soldier of General Tembo’s mould would hold dear, like the personnel and material capacity of his army, can easily be found with the click of the button on a computer.
A simple search on Google Earth would easily give one the coordinates of sensitive infrastructure of a country. As such, General Tembo’s fears become not only unfounded, but unreasonable.
Globalisation, ICTs and Google Earth aside, one wonders how developed countries which otherwise would have a lot to lose by allowing dual citizenship, sensibly grant dual citizenship while poorer countries always think about security and crime as a way of denying those wishing to acquire dual citizenship.
In most cases, there is a genuine reason for one wanting dual citizenship rather than the thought of committing a crime in one country and running off to another.
Like others have argued, there are children of Zambians born outside the country who only know Zambia in name but have more in common with the country of their birth. These children, for atavistic reasons, want to hold on to the citizenship of their parents while also enjoying the citizenship of their countries of birth.
NCC members debating the issue of dual citizenship should not be swayed by “has been” politicians and civil servants whose understanding of globalisation and ICTs is minimal and have unfounded fear as to why this should not be included in the constitution.
What the NCC members should bear in mind is that Zambia stands to gain once dual citizenship is allowed because such citizens will easily be moving resources between countries.
Friday, 20 June 2008
Dual Citizenship - Part 2 : On security and globalisation....
Gershom Ndhlovu reflects on dual citizenship, an ex-general's concern and Zambia in a globalised world :