Dual citizenship comes with strings attached

  • 10 January, 2019

By Tmglive

Lesotho’s eight amendment to the constitution provides for marriage to a Lesotho citizen and dual citizenship as well as restoration of Lesotho citizenship, but the benefits come with strings attached.

While any citizen of Lesotho may hold citizenship of any other country in addition to his citizenship of Lesotho, there is a room for an act of parliament which will state the terms and conditions of dual citizenship such as that the person “shall not hold a position which will be specified by an Act of Parliament governing citizenship matters.”

“Social benefits means educational sponsorships, social grants, old age pension or any other benefit which the minister responsible for citizens matters may determine,” states the act.

After 53 years of independence, Lesotho has uplifted the discriminatory provisions which were favouring foreign women married to a Lesotho citizen over foreign men who marry Basotho women by providing for similar requirements for acquisition of Lesotho citizenship.

According to the new government gazette published December 21, 2018, the act further removes the Constitutional prohibition on dual citizenship and restores Lesotho citizenship with the aim of facilitating the return and reintegration of Lesotho citizens by birth or ancestry who lost their citizenship and it also allows naturalised Lesotho citizens to regain or retain their birth nationality.

The new act also provides for  limitations for citizens of other countries who acquire citizenship of Lesotho through naturalisation and registration to be eligible for social benefits after ten years of being naturalised or registered as a citizen of Lesotho. “Furthermore, the bill provides that a naturalised or registered Lesotho citizen shall not hold specified positions as provided by an act of parliament.”

Before the dual citizenship act was promulgated, the constitution stated that any person who, upon the attainment of the age of 21 is a citizen of Lesotho and also a citizen of some country other than Lesotho shall cease to be a citizen of Lesotho upon the specified date unless he has renounced his citizenship of that other country.

It also stated that a citizen of Lesotho shall cease to be such a citizen if, having attained the age of 21 he acquires the citizenship of some country other than Lesotho by voluntary act other than marriage or has not renounced his citizenship of that other country.

The constitution however made a provision only for women who becomes a citizen of Lesotho by marriage to a Lesotho citizen.

According to the state news agency, Lena, Ministry of Home Affairs Legal Officer, Advocate Puleng Mbanga Mthi, Basotho had denounced their citizenship because the constitution did not allow that people could have citizenship of Lesotho and any other country but forced them to denounce one in order to have another.
When proposing the amendment in the National Assembly home affairs minister, Tsukutlane Au said the country invested a lot to its people to study in the universities who are now working in other countries where they hold high positions due to their qualifications.
He said some of them end up applying for citizenship for such countries and in the process losing the citizenship of Lesotho whose constitution does not allow for dual citizenship.
“Basotho are very talented and educated but the country does not benefit after investing in their academic qualifications as after being educated they go to other countries in search of greener pastures,” he said.
According to Au Lesotho experience brain drain due to massive skills erosion to other countries where after investing so much to its citizens end up not benefiting in their skills.
“South Africa as our only neighbour has many Basotho working there, but after sucking their skills it dumps them back home where they lose their pensions and other benefits and become a burden of the Ministry of Social Development,” he argued.
He observed that citizens in the diaspora send money back home on monthly basis known as remittances and if Basotho regain their citizenship, it would maximise the revenue.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger