Zanzibar: Veteran editor stripped of citizenship

Published: 8/Aug/2008
Source: The Guardian (Dar es Salaam)

Zanzibar’s Immigration Department has revoked the citizenship of the consultant editor of Fahamu newspaper, Ali Mohammed Nabwa. The revocation comes just days after the Minister for Home Affairs, Capt John Chiligati, restored the editor’s citizenship that was withdrawn after the Isles government banned the newspaper he was heading as managing editor.

Speaking to journalists at his residence on Kikwajuni Street yesterday, Nabwa said that he had received a letter on Sunday, which informed him of his persona non-grata status. He added that the letter has directed him to lodge a fresh application for citizenship. “I have been directed to pay USD 400 to be allowed to stay in Zanzibar for six months,” Nabwa said.

The letter said Nabwa’s previous application for citizenship had not been received by the Director of Immigration Department. The letter signed by A. K. H. Ramadhani on behalf of the Assistant Director of Immigration said the decision to strip the editor of citizenship was reached after consultations with Chiligati. Nabwa, however, was defiant and said he would not pay USD 400 for a temporary residence permit, saying the matter had already been settled by Chiligati.

“The Minister for Home Affairs is the sole guarantor for citizenship. I give a two-week ultimatum to the Immigration Department to give me back my travel documents. Failing to do that would prompt me to institute legal action against the Department,” Nabwa said.

In his letter dated April 24, this year and referenced HAS.152/155/10/N/58, Chiligati notified Nabwa of his citizenship status, saying the editor is a Tanzanian national and not a foreigner. A senior officer in the Immigration Department in Zanzibar George Jacob Kaswende confirmed yesterday that Nabwa is a naturalised Tanzanian.

Last March, Nabwa was appointed a consultant editor of Fahamu. Nabwa, who is in his late 60s, is a vastly experienced editor, was once Press secretary of the late Vice president, Dr Omar Ali Juma. He arrived in the country shortly after independence from the Comoros Islands and has had long stints as editor of a number of publications. He was editor of Dira, a weekly newspaper that was banned last year by the Isles government because of its uncompromising stance on respect for human rights and political pluralism on the Isles.

From Southern Africa Migration Programme archive.

Themes: Loss and Deprivation of Nationality
Regions: Tanzania
Year: 2008