Tanzania: ‘Statements on Mkapa’s citizenship misplaced’

Published: 11/Aug/2002
Source: Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

By FAUSTINE KAPAMA, Sunday, August 11, 2002

Former prime minister Joseph Warioba yesterday took swipe at individuals who question the citizenship of President Benjamin Mkapa, saying such allegations were uncalled for and baseless slander.

He advised Tanzanians to refer to the Citizenship Act of 1995 and grasp the correct definition of a citizen under the country’s constitution.

Opening the second annual general meeting of the Legal and Human Rights Centre in Dar es Salaam, Justice Warioba said under the law any person who is born in Tanzania becomes automatically a citizen, except children of diplomats.

Mr Warioba said it was surprising that after the endorsement of the Act, Tanzanians continued to refer to an outdated legislation.

He described the trend as dangerous, adding that it could make people stateless and violate their human rights.

Justice Warioba told the audience that before independence, Tanganyikans had no citizenship. They were British subjects. The British colonial government, he explained, introduced a citizenship law immediately before independence.

He said to iron out citizenship problems that cropped up during the post-independence era, in 1995 a Citizenship Act was enacted, pegging citizenship to being born in Tanzania.

“What is worse,” the former attorney general and premier said, “citizenship is assuming the dimension of political fanaticism. The year before last year some people had guts to question the citizenship of President Amani Abeid Karume during election time. Only recently a person questioned the citizenship of Mwalimu Nyerere and President Mkapa…”

He said the graves of the father (Burito) and grandfather (Nyerere) of Mwalimu are in Butiama. He wondered on what basis people were questioning the nationality of Mwalimu.

Tanzanians, he said, know President Mkapa was born and grew up in this country; his parents were born in this country. He then added: “On what basis are we questioning the citizenship of President Mkapa? Is it because people of his tribe are found in other countries besides Tanzania?

The former premier advised Tanzanians to go by what the law says on the question of citizenship and refrain from fanaticism, warning that if a person is denied citizenship in a country he or she was born, it is not easy to get citizenship in another country.

Themes: Acquisition by children, Nationality of Politicians
Regions: Tanzania
Year: 2002