Woman takes gov’t to court over dual citizenship

Argues that her children are effectively being compelled to choose between the mother and their father

Staff Writer

A Motswana woman married to a Norwegian man has taken the Botswana Government to court demanding that her children be granted dual citizenship, which is currently outlawed in Botswana.

Botswana currently does not allow for dual citizenship under any circumstances. If the citizen does not renounce the citizenship of the foreign country before the age of 21, the citizen will cease to be a Botswana citizen.

According to the law, any person who is both a citizen of Botswana and a foreign country will cease to be a citizen of Botswana unless the following measures are taken before the attainment of age 21: The person would have renounced the citizenship of the foreign country, taken the oath of allegiance and have made such a declaration of intention concerning residence as may be prescribed.

But Sithabile Mathe argues that the law violates principles of human rights and wants her children granted dual citizenship to enjoy both their countries of descent. She argues that her children have already made strong connections with people and friends in both countries.

“Because of this law, they are compelled to abandon their birth land, their mother’s land in order to retain another country’s citizenship,” she says in her papers.

She argues that here children are being made to feel like foreigners in their country just because their father is a foreigner, and that the law as it is compels them to choose between their mother and father.

According to Mathe, the law is denying the children their right to associate with both their family in Botswana and their father’s Norwegian side.

She avers that as a result of the dictates of the law, she also stands to lose her bond with her children whose choice will obviously be of a more developed country, if they are made to choose between the two countries.