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AU proposes dual citizenship bill

Sept. 20, 2018 3 min read

Maseru – The Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Tsukutlane Au on Tuesday proposed the eighth amendment to the constitution’s bill in the National Assembly that will allow Basotho to have dual citizenship. Speaking about the bill, the Minister said the country has invested a lot for its people to study in foreign universities, but the graduates 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 other countries, which then benefits those countries while Lesotho loses out because the Mountain Kingdom’s 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 because after they are educated, they go to other countries in search of greener pastures,” he highlighted.

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Mr. Au said, in the process, Lesotho suffers from brain drain and skills erosion as the country ends up not fully benefiting from the educational investment and skills acquired by Basotho abroad. He believes that the amendment will make it possible for the country to benefit by retaining Basotho who are highly skilled as they will not lose their citizenship even if they are holding other countries’ citizenship.

“South Africa as our only neighbour has many Basotho working there, but after sucking their skills it dumps them back home and they lose their pensions. In the process, they become a burden to the Ministry of Social Development,” he stressed. He pointed out that foreigners working in other countries usually send money back home to their families on a monthly basis (foreign remittances), saying those remittances, which make up a significant portion of a nation's gross domestic product (GDP), would be maximised if Basotho held dual citizenship. “As a result, Basotho will contribute to the country's economic growth and job creation,” the Minister said.

Mr. Au said Basotho in Lesotho will now be able to interact with those living in other countries - socially and culturally - but the present constitution has cut off that bond. “We will also be able to revive the relationships with our brothers and sisters living in other countries,” he emphasised. He said amendment would also ease the movement between Lesotho and neighbouring South Africa as well as decrease the number of Basotho being deported from SA, adding that even those in dentition would be released.

In his final words, Mr. Au said the amendment would also assist Basotho acquire employment legally in other countries and freely compete on the international market without worrying about losing their Lesotho or foreign citizenship. The Minister of Trade and Industry, Tefo Mapesela, seconded the motion, but allying fears that the amendment would open doors for foreigners to flock in the country, saying conditions will be in place to control the number of foreigners applying for Lesotho citizenship.

He also noted that Lesotho's senior soccer squad, Likuena will also benefit as some players born outside (but residing in other countries) the country from Basotho parents would have an option to play for the country of their choice. The Member of Parliament for Qalo Constituency N0.5, Mr. Thabang Kholumo, also supported the motion labelling the amendment as “operation Ha ba latoe”, translating to operation lets fetch them. He commended the Ministry of Home Affairs, saying many Basotho who were forced to leave Lesotho will now be able to return home and plough their fields and rebuild the ruins of their parents.

According to Mr. Kholumo, there are close to 400,000 Basotho residing abroad. Mr. Kholumo also noted that Lesotho is not unique to the rest of the world, in terms of the dual nationality, as other countries such South Africa, Greece, UK, US, Australia and Spain just to mention a few do have dual citizenship.Some countries which do not have dual citizenship are Botswana, Zimbabwe, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, and China just to name a few. The debate is still ongoing.


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