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Enforcement of Citizenship Regulations Unsettles Young Zimbabweans Living in Botswana

FILE: Botswana police ready to arrest illegal immigrants.
FILE: Botswana police ready to arrest illegal immigrants.

The Botswana government says it will cancel citizenship for all persons above the age of 21, born to a local and a foreigner, who have not renounced citizenship for another country.

A child born to a Motswana and a foreigner has dual citizenship or is considered to assume the nationality of both parents until the age of 21. At 21, the person is expected to choose between the two countries and renounce citizenship of the other.

“When an individual with dual citizenship fails to renounce citizenship at age 21, it will result in the loss of the Botswana citizenship because the law will presume that the citizenship has been renounced as per the Citizenship Act,” reads a press statement from the Ministry of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs.

With a number of marriages between Zimbabwe and Batswana, there are children who might be affected by this regulation.

A Zimbabwean man, who married a local woman and the couple have a son, said, “We appreciate the government’s efforts to ensure people regularize, since some people believe that once they have a Botswana identity card, they automatically become citizens, without renouncing their other nationality once they reach the age of 21.”

An affected young man noted that “we are worried that the regulation will have an effect on those who are above 21, but did not renounce the citizenship of their other country, meaning they will lose their rights as Botswana citizens. My father is a Zimbabwean and my mother is a Botswana citizen.”

Department of Immigration officials have urged those affected to visit their offices and ensure compliance.

“The ministry advises those affected to renounce citizenship at the age of 21,” the government statement reads.