Source: Cape Times / Independent Online (South Africa)
By Stefanie de Saude-Darbandi
Incompetence, inconsistency and constant policy flip-flops by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) is causing chaos among foreigners seeking residence and citizenship in South Africa.
Despite exhaustive efforts by refugees, asylum seekers and skilled immigrants to adhere to South African citizenship and residence law, the DHA’s wildly inconsistent and incoherent application of laws and regulations is creating a situation where foreign doctors wanting to work and live South Africa find themselves – and their families – stateless, with little to no recourse except for lengthy and expensive litigation.
And the ones who suffer most are, as is often the case, the most vulnerable: children.
Take the case of the Mulowayis of Kensington, Johannesburg.
Florette Mulowayi has lived and worked in South Africa since 2002, when she left the Democratic Republic of Congo as a refugee.
Her husband, Nsongoni, joined her in 2004 and, in the time since, the Mulowayis have built a life for themselves in South Africa and have had three children all of whom were born here.
Florette was granted permanent residence on May 5, 2011 and Nsongoni was granted his on February 1, 2011. After being informed by DHA officials that they needed only to wait five years after receiving permanent residence before they were eligible for citizenship, the Mulowayis duly applied for citizenship in 2016.
However, according to DHA, for the Mulowayis to obtain South African citizenship they would have to renounce their DRC citizenship since that country does not allow dual citizenship.
As South Africa had become their home country – as well as the home of their children – the Mulowayis submitted their declarations of renunciation. By mid-December 2015, Florette and Nsongoni ceased to be DRC citizens.
After checking with a DHA official that all their application forms were correctly completed, the Mulowayis submitted the paperwork that would at last make them South African citizens.
The application was denied.
See also Constitutional Court judgment in this case: http://citizenshiprightsafrica.org/south-africa-mulowayi-and-others-v-minister-of-home-affairs-and-another-cct24918/