While consultations for the Citizen Amendment Bill dealing with dual citizenship have been put on hold for further consultations, the government is considering new mitigations to ensure those affected are not discriminated against and denied their Botswana heritage.
Earlier in the year, the government, through the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, reiterated the process called renunciation of citizenship. Children born to a Motswana and a foreigner are considered to have dual citizenship based on the citizenship of both parents until the age of 21 years.
At the age of 20, those affected are expected to write to the ministry stating their intention to retain one citizenship and renounce the other. This has to be done before their 21st birthday.
The Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender affairs Ngaka Ngaka recently told Parliament that any consultations regarding the Citizenship Amendment Bill that are to do with dual citizenship had been put on hold as it affects 34 other pieces of legislation. Minister Ngaka, however, revealed that his ministry is mulling over introducing a new card to help those affected and help them gain access into Botswana.
In an interview with Sunday Standard Minister Ngaka said; “Most Batswana who have renounced their citizenship did so because they married foreigners and moved to countries that do not allow dual citizenship. These are people who grew up here, their parents live here and their heritage is here in Botswana.
Foreigners who come here are given a ninety-day permit and so are Batswana who have renounced their permits. For example, if one is coming into the country to visit a sick relative nobody knows when they are going to get better; we cannot put a time period on their sickness,” Minister Ngaka explained.
“We realised that since they were born here, we would be infringing on the rights of our people to live in a place where their ancestors originate. Also, it does not give us any economic benefits or benefits of some sort, once they come and go, they are gone for good. As the Ministry, we have the Botswana BlueCard.
The Botswana BlueCard is not a type of permit that would require stamps for it to be renewed or allow the person to continue being in the country for ninety days. It is a type of residence card to Botswana. When one gets married and leaves the country we give them the Botswana BlueCard,” Minister Ngaka said.
Information gathered by The Sunday Standard has shown that the Botswana BlueCard may turn out to be exclusive to Batswana married to foreigners, living outside the country and have renounced their Botswana citizenship. However, the card is yet to be presented but there may be other conditions considered for other Batswana to be given the card.
Minister Ngaka said; “The Botswana BlueCard, when introduced, will give those in possession access into Botswana anytime dependant on how long they want to stay and will not be given three months like the normal procedure. Finer details surrounding the Botswana Blue card have already be done and it has been published in past Government Gazettes. The next thing to do would be to introduce it to the public.”