Who benefits from dual citizenship?
By Simon Kabanda – Zambia’s Constitutional Process Making and Development Expert
Friday 17th March 2017 published by Rainbow Zambia
A person with dual citizenship is a citizen of two countries at the same time.
With the 2016 Amended Constitution, Zambia became sixty fifth on the list of countries in the world that allow dual citizenship or double nationality.
This provision is new to Zambia. For whose benefit is this provision, Zambians or foreigners?
When the Annel Silungwe Technical Committee on Drafting the Zambian Constitution (TCDZC) produced its first draft Constitution and invited comments from the public, the few people who were opposed to the provision of dual citizenship argued that this provision was going to benefit foreigners and not Zambians.
What does the Republican Constitution state?
Article 39 of the 2016 Amended Constitution provides as follows:
“(1) A citizen shall not lose citizenship by acquiring the citizenship of another country.
(2) A citizen who ceased to be a citizen, before the commencement of this Constitution as a result of acquiring the citizenship of another country, shall be entitled to apply, as prescribed, to the Citizenship Board of Zambia, for citizenship and the Citizenship Board of Zambia shall bestow citizenship on that person.”
This provision allows Zambians who acquire foreign citizenship to maintain their Zambian citizenship. It also allows Zambians to regain their original Zambian citizenship which they lost when they acquired citizenship of another country.
This is based on the principle that there should be continuity in the enjoyment of the citizenship by Zambians even if they assume another country’s citizenship by virtue of being resident in a foreign country for a number of years or for economic benefits.
Citizenship is a fundamental right which should be protected and not be denied simply because a citizen has acquired foreign citizenship [TCDZC].
Calls for the provision of Dual Citizenship came from the people of Zambia when they made submissions to the Mung’omba CRC (2003-2005), as illustrated in the Report of the Constitution Review Commission of 29th December 2005, pages 101-103:
“Some petitioners made submissions that the Constitution should provide for dual citizenship because there was need to encourage Zambians living abroad who have acquired foreign citizenship to retain their Zambian citizenship. The argument advanced by those petitioners who called for the Constitution to permit dual citizenship was that Zambian citizens who have acquired citizenship of other countries should be encouraged to maintain ties with Zambia. This would encourage the promotion of investment for the benefit of the country.”
With this provision in the current Republican Constitution, is it now easier for foreigners to acquire Zambian Citizenship?
Article 37 of the 2016 Amended Constitution provides as follows:
(1) Subject to clause (2), a person is entitled to apply to the Citizenship Board of Zambia to be registered as a citizen if that person has attained the age of eighteen years and—
(a) was born in Zambia and has been ordinarily resident in Zambia for a period of at least five years;
(b)was born outside Zambia, has or had an ancestor who is, or was, a citizen and has been ordinarily resident in Zambia for a period of at least five years; or
(c) has been ordinarily resident in Zambia for a continuous period of at least ten years;
immediately preceding that person’s application for registration, as prescribed.
(2) Notwithstanding clause (1), a person who is, or was married to a citizen, for a period of at least five years, is entitled to apply to the Citizenship Board of Zambia, to be registered as a citizen, as prescribed.
What therefore does this mean for foreigners?
While Zambian citizens will not lose their original Zambian citizenship when they acquire citizenship of another country, foreigners who wish to become Zambian citizens will have to meet certain conditions as they go through a process of registration, as prescribed.
14 March 2017
Jericho Sikwiilala Both The Nation and the Citizens if two nations. Both benefit.