Source: The Citizen (Tanzania)
Tanzania could grant dual citizenship to its nationals as early as 2014, Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation minister Bernard Membe said yesterday.
The minister told Parliament that the ministry and other relevant institutions of the government were determined to conclude the process so that it coincides with the enactment of a new constitution.For his part, President Jakaya Kikwete has publicly stated that he would wish to see the new constitution enacted before the 2015 General Election.
The government is currently preparing a revised bill to be tabled in Parliament in October to kick-start the review process. If the ministry will have its way, it could mean Tanzanians who have resided abroad for many years and even obtained foreign citizenship could regain their Tanzanian passports.
The current law criminalises such an arrangement.Mr Membe told MPs during the tabling of his budget for 2011/12 that his ministry was in consultation with the Home Affairs ministry and the office of the attorney general to fine tune a dual citizenship bill to be tabled in the Parliament.
“We are due to present it to the Cabinet for discussions; after the discussions the Home Affairs minister will officially table the bill in Parliament to amend the 1995 Tanzania Citizenship Act,” he said.
He also said the three government entities were working to eliminate some of the constraints that have been hindering Tanzanians living abroad to contribute to the country’s economic development. One of the constraints was dual citizenship and MPs, including Ms Leticia Nyerere (Chadema – Special Seats) said the government was dillydallying on this matter for no apparent reason.
“It is unfortunate that this matter is taking unnecessarily long and it is time the government took the final move to act. We are segregating our own people for fear they will come and contest political office,” said Ms Nyerere. She said no foreigner would use such an opportunity as best as would a Tanzanian citizen proper.
According to Mr Membe, his ministry has reached an agreement with the Bank of Tanzania, Tanzania Revenues Authority, National Housing Corporation and other commercial entities to create a conducive legal environment for the Diasporas to contribute to the country’s’ economic development.
He said a team of experts from Africa Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) will arrive in the country in August to assess the government. According to Mr Membe, his ministry plans to collect Sh14.87 billion. He told the House that his ministry also plans to spend Sh44.5 billion in various development projects while Sh80.6 billion would go towards recurrent expenditure. He requested the Parliament to endorse his Sh125.1 billion budget.
For his part, the Foreign and International Cooperation Shadow Minister, Mr Ezekia Wenje, said the government should explain a March 2011 circular by the Prime Minister that appeared to target relations between the Opposition, civil society groups and members of the diplomatic missions.
He questioned the government’s commitment to the implementation of APRM. Mr Wenje said although the Parliament okayed Tanzania’s decision to join APRM, the country has never been assessed because the government has been reluctant to avail the required money.