Most people oppose dual citizenship because they think that people in the Diaspora already enjoy life there. As such, the addition of dual citizenship is seen as a bloated advantage. This is not correct.
This article is a response to Eric Chanda, president of Fourth Revolution Party (4R), who is ardent at opposing the inclusion of dual citizenship into the Zambian Constitution. On June 16, 2015, Mr. Chanda opined that such an inclusion would only serve to “benefit foreigners.” He called on Zambians outside to return to Zambia and help develop the country. He feared failure to doing so was tantamount to “hiding in the Diaspora.” Of course, the 4R leader played the issue of dual citizenship down in relation to other more nuanced economic-impact factors.
The factors most oft-quoted include the holding of a second passport; ability to find refuge in a safer country of dual citizenship if there is civil war or war in the resident country; for non-US citizens, ability to pay taxes only to one nation; ease of mobility, including an expansive array of investment opportunities in the two countries; freedom from economic mismanagement of one of the countries; and others.
The other reason why most people oppose dual citizenship is because they think that people in the Diaspora already enjoy life there. As such, the addition of dual citizenship is seen as a bloated advantage to those already making and having a relatively richer life abroad. Some argue against dual citizenship as a way of denying those in the Diaspora another avenue of continuous acquisition of the better things of life. There is another reason: Former vice-president, Enoch Kavindele, once saw the granting of dual citizenship as s security risk, especially if one with dual citizenship was to rule as president.
One would not immediately fail to see that petty jealousies are usually at play. Sentiments like, “They are already better, what more do they want back home?” are frequently heard. And sometimes, there is a justifiable reasoning for saying so. The author remembers before he left for the Diaspora hearing of stories of the Diaspora and that living there automatically made one rich and “developed”. And, for most people, this belief is highly preferred. In novels by Nigerian authors the term “been-to” became popularized in the 1980s and which caused many African students to desire to relocate as a means of enhancing their economic status. These stories, beliefs and sometimes misinformation, have collectively made some people to make leaving Africa and situating in rich and developed countries as their life-time and must-achieve goals. The reality is, it is not always so, usually.
It is not the purpose of this article to present reasons for why sometimes relocating abroad is not a better dream than staying at home. That will be for another time. However, it is sufficient to mention that times have changed and the Diaspora does not guarantee riches and a better life any more than education does not automatically guarantee one the best jobs available (but we all agree that education is a necessary condition for employment). Hard working, resourcefulness, good personal management, sound economic policies at work, sacrifice and discipline and sometimes a sheer stroke of luck, are needed to succeed, both abroad and at home. In addition, globalization has made the world a small village, where one needs not travel abroad to benefit from development in any country on earth!
Indeed, dual citizenship has benefits for all. Just look at nations that allow it. These countries, in alphabetical orders, allow dual citizenship either completely or with some modifications: Albania; Australia; Barbados; Bangladesh; Belgium; Bulgaria; Canada; Chile; Costa Rica; Croatia; Cyprus; Czech Republic; Egypt; Finland; France; Germany; Greece; Hungary; Iceland; Israel; Italy; Jamaica; Kosovo; Latvia; Malta; Mexico; Pakistan; Panama; Peru; Philippines; Portugal; Romania; Serbia; Slovenia; South Africa; South Korea; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; Syria; Turkey; United Kingdom; and the United States. It can be argued here that these countries, combined, control the largest share of global wealth and most promote citizens’ liberties and democracy. These countries saw it economically viable to allow for dual citizenship.
There are also other countries which do not allow for dual citizenship, and even this is not in all instances, and these are: Andorra; Austria; China; Denmark; India (with modifications); Japan (completely disallows); Malaysia; Netherlands; Norway; Panama; Poland; Singapore; Thailand; Ukraine (with modifications); United Arab Emirates; and Venezuela.
Countries not listed in either list above either have no official policy or legislation on dual citizenship, or like Zambia, are in the process of legislating for the same. But Zambia’s situation is peculiar and demands context. Addressing Zambians in South Africa recently, President Lungu said, “Government has agreed to allow Zambians to hold dual citizenship with some rights like the presidency (contesting presidential elections) being the preserve of those holding single citizenship.”
I have always known that there is a side of this president which is smart, wise, reasonable and caring. And this side understands that dual citizenship in the case of Zambia is a national asset, not a mark of double-dipping about. There is not so much to double-dip in Zambia. In honesty, if most people living in the developed countries where asked to choose between Zambia and those countries, I have no doubt they would choose those countries. At the moment, those countries promise relative political stability, economic wellness, social freedom. They also provide better pay for relatively the same jobs in Zambia and have lower unemployment rates and very high life expectancy rates. Therefore, it cannot be a question of choice between Zambia and say, the USA; it is more than politics, economics or wanting a better life.
Most of us advocate for dual citizenship because of our love for Zambia, albeit poor, struggling and, plainly, with nothing globally to write home about. Patriotism drives us. The same reason why we write commentaries, participate in social media forums and contribute on law and development in Zambia. We love Zambia and want to see the nation progress from poverty to prosperity.
The inclusion of dual citizenship clause in the Zambian Constitution may be justified on 10 grounds:
First, the “first African leaders” benefited from exposure abroad: Those who liberated Africa were mostly groomed in the West, and a few from China and Russia. Under colonialism, a number of young African scholars were going abroad, typically to the “mother” country, to acquire good education. After independence from the colonial rulers, many Africans continued to go to Europe for education that would enable them to promote well-being in their home countries upon return (Constant and Tien, 2010). It is debatable whether the education they acquired abroad was necessary to develop Africa, but it is incontestable that it helped them to liberate Africa.
Second, dual citizens can receive the benefits and privileges offered by each country. For example, they have access to two social service systems, can vote in either country and may be able to run for office in either country (depending on each country’s laws). They are also allowed to work in either country without needing a work permit or visa and can attend school in either country at the citizen tuition rate (Jean Folger). Why is this important to Third World formations like Zambia? Zambia is still grappling with an undeveloped education system. For the most part its teachers are inadequately trained, the facilities are either dilapidated or not there, and generally, educational standards are below the standards of those of the developed formations, like Canada or the USA. It is not being at variance to conclude that leaders trained from the developed educational background will have more to give in terms of leadership, value and ideas. They may also be able to live out what has worked abroad.
Third, being trained abroad and living abroad are not the same things, therefore, only those who live abroad will have a sustained impact on the politics and economics of the poor formation. Take as an example a person who spends five years in college or university abroad. This person will perhaps be on a VISA or some sort of Study Permit has limited access to resources and in most cases, will have limited mobility. When this person returns home, other than what they learned through “osmosis,” they have nothing more than classroom experience of the developed formation. In short, though trained abroad, these “Western educated Africans” will still be African-minded in terms of policing and programming. It is not that African education is not adequate to develop Africa; it is a truism that most of what is in Africa is either imported from the developed countries or has their blessings. Talk of books, technology, leadership paradigms, even the sources of money used in Africa, these for the most part, come or have been borrowed from the rich countries. In recent past, Zambian presidents have gone and died abroad. It cannot be because Zambia has no medical facilities; it is because Zambians know, implicitly or explicitly, that better medical facilities are still found abroad.
Fourth, and as an addendum to three above, “Foreign-educated leaders attract more FDI to their country. Our rationale is that education obtained abroad encompasses a whole slew of factors that can make a difference in FDI flows when this foreign-educated individual becomes a leader” (Constant and Tien, 2010). FDI or foreign direct investment is a much needed currency in Zambia’s quest to wean itself from the aura of central government. However, and even more importantly, foreign companies and governments may trust those who got their education and business experience from abroad and even more those who lived and worked abroad. If a president is one who lived and worked abroad, you can imagine the level of trust in his/her government. It is also important to emphasize that citizens who have lived abroad may, comparatively, be less corrupt, less dictatorial, less autocratic, less dishonest, and more democratic and fair in their approach to governance. The reason is simple, because they lived and absorbed those values which most developed countries subscribe to.
Fifth, the idea of “Brain Earn” comes to light. Remember in the late 1980s and early 1990s when the concept of “brain drain” was rife on the political tongue! Now, the idea of brain drain is becoming obsolete and more so with increased global economic integration in place. Relocation or immigration does not drain brains anymore, it empowers brains. In other words, training or living in another country shapes your brain to infinite possibilities in terms of economic modelling, political idealization or social industry. A leader who has spent ten years squarely in Africa will be less industrious, less innovative, and less dexterous than another who lived or worked abroad, especially in the developed country! This is the same reason why developed governments appoint leaders who have lived in Africa to head undertakings whose mission involve Africa.
Sixth, a dual citizen can own property in either country. This benefits both countries, but especially the poor country. The reason is simple, some countries restrict land ownership to citizens only and land or property is a genuine investment. Imagine more Zambians owning property, land and businesses abroad! Imagine what this will do to promoting Zambian brands, connecting local businesses to the developed ones and generally putting Zambia on the map as has been the case for Israel, Nigeria or India! And this is not new, major corporations from the developed countries do own lands and properties and businesses in Africa. They can relocate interests based on the viability of the enterprise or enabling economic environment in either country. This benefit is self-assertive.
Seventh, dual citizenship informs cultural education. “Having dual citizenship gives you the chance to educate others about the culture and people of two different countries. Governments may like dual citizenship because it helps to promote a country's image and culture abroad. If you have two passports, you may have more access to the world” (Kate Bradley). Even more, it enhances tourism and promotes a healthy image abroad. Consider the Jews and the impact they have had in the USA, Canada, and UK! Consider the Nigerians, Jamaicans and to some extent, Indians! All these nationals have made their birth countries powerful abroad. In international parlance, that means economic boom and political propagation of their originating countries.
Eighth, dual citizenship entails easy of travel. If you are a dual citizen, you enjoy the protection of two governments even when you are traveling. If you encounter problems on the trip, you can appeal to one or both governments' embassies. “When asked for identification during international travels, you can supply the passport that is least likely to raise eyebrows or cause problems among officials. You can also travel to both countries as a native citizen, avoiding the lengthy airport queues and questioning about your purposes” (Kate Bradley). This is self-explanatory; no commentary required.
Ninth, dual citizenship promotes increased security awareness. To a dual citizen, one country may be a homeland but the other is very much a new home. Immediately this will cause them to fully experience and embrace the ideals of both countries. Dual citizens will more likely than mono-citizens promote peace and order in both countries because of dual security interests in both. They will also be more sensitive to issues of war, terrorism and treason. This is the very opposite of the fears most people have of dual citizenship. Dual citizens, by design, are incapable of compromising the security secrets of both countries. They will likely defend both interests with equal strength. Their own safety depends on it.
Tenth, there is a trend towards world citizenship. One question that cannot be avoided now is: Where is the world going? The world is trekking towards more integration, globalization and outsourcing of important jobs and ideas. Rather than being individuals, nationals are tending to be more world citizens. The Internet is drawing all of us together; Facebook, Twitter and various social media are drawing us towards one identity. Although no nation should sacrifice its sovereignty for integration, it is vital to understanding that socio-political dynamics are calling on us to unite more, cooperate more and share more equitably in the world’s diminishing and scarce resources. In light of this, duality of citizenship will not be much to ask for. The only caveat under this clarion is that no-one nation should take advantage of another in economic and security terms. Done properly and lawfully, both countries stand to benefit from dual citizenship.
For Zambia, this is a move in the right direction. And for President Lungu, this is the best investment of his presidency to date. For the Zambian parliamentarians currently voting on the adoption of the Constitution Bill, the issue of dual citizenship is not for the benefit of this author (because he will doubly benefit), it is for the benefit of the country. It is not Canada or the USA which stands to benefit, it is Zambia. Zambia will not make economic, political or social progress unless one of its sons or daughters who has been educated, worked and lived abroad (especially in a developed country) is allowed to become head of state.
* Charles Mwewa is author of Zambia: Struggles of My People and has recently begun running a weekly column in the Zambian Eye called, “Law & Development.”
* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM
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