In his most recent official visit to the United States of America (USA), the President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, met a group of Tanzanian citizens – as well as citizens of USA who have renounced their Tanzanian citizenship – residing in Los Angeles, California. One of the burning questions that they had for the President – as the buildup to the event indicated – was the question of dual citizenship. Prior to this presidential visit it was a common knowledge, as garnered from parliamentary debates and ensuing media reports such as The Citizen’s Preparations for dual citizenship law underway (15 July 2008) and The Daily News’ Bill on dual citizenship coming (15 July 2008), that the government was in the process of preparing a Bill for dual citizenship to be tabled in parliament in one of its 2009 sessions.
Thus the anticipation the Tanzanian diaspora had, despite the fact that their campaign to push for such a Bill goes back as early as 2004, was based on the hope that as the head of the government, the president could reveal how soon they should expect such a parliamentary motion. Surprisingly, flanked by the minister responsible for foreign affairs, Bernard Membe, the president told his audience in Los Angeles that the move has stalled as it has been a subject of opposition among a number of people including the highly regarded intellectuals at the university, some of whom he affirmed they know very well. He noted that the minister for foreign affairs has frequently talked in favour of it but has now stopped doing so, for every time he speaks about it they blast – as in criticise – him.
In his characteristically humouristic tone, President Kikwete grinningly said that these opponents of dual citizenship are saying that their fellows who are abroad want to ‘kula huku na huku’, which when literally translated means, they ‘want to eat here and there.’ It is obvious he was referring to certain ‘Intellectuals at the Hill’, that is, those at the The Guardian (12 April 2007), Christina Mwangosi concluded that most participants disagreed with the adoption of dual citizenship by arguing that it will endanger peace, security and livelihood of poor Tanzanians.
Moreover, they argued that it will increase pressure on land because in most cases people with access to dual citizenship may take advantage of their affluence to purchase land, thus leaving the poor landless. Another argument advanced against it was that it may also put the nation at a high security risk. According to the Centre for the Study of Forced Migration, the International Refugee Rights Initiative & the Social Science Research Council, however, some people argued that introducing it might perhaps help Tanzania to access investment from the diaspora and that there was recognition of the existence of an emerging elite with children born outside Tanzania who could also benefit.
Arguably one of those famous intellectuals who are against dual citizenship is Professor Issa Shivji. As far back as 2006, when the Law Reform Commission of Tanzania, chaired by the renowned Judge Antony Bahati, issued a report on the introduction of dual citizenship in Tanzania, he had expressed concern that the reforms were spearheaded by an elite few. According to the Sunday News (21 May 2006), Shivji said this was so because the majority of Tanzanians would not benefit from such a reform. Moreover, he contended that the reform in favour of dual citizen was/is a sign of a lack of patriotism and would lead to a loss of national identity. In tandem with these contentions he wrote an article on dual versus African citizenship in The Citizen (24 November 2007).
Therein Shivji offered a critique of one of the parliamentary debates on dual citizenship in which the response of a deputy minister concerned with citizenship implied that ‘many’ Tanzanians were/are in favour of it. After noting that previously newspapers have reported that vocal Tanzanians particularly those residing abroad had clamoured for that form of citizenship and also after observing that it seemed even those in authority were/are in favour of it, Shivji predicted that perhaps it was thus a matter of time before dual citizenship is legalised and then posed two set of interrelated questions that we need to ask. The first one is which Tanzanians want such citizenship and how many are those ‘many Tanzanians’ who want it? And the second one is what does dual citizenship imply, and who stands to benefit from it?
The answer to the first question, he contended, is clear even without taking a head count. It is – for it can only be – the members of the minute elite who constitute that ‘many Tanzanians’ implied by the said deputy minister. To Shivji, these ‘many’ Tanzanians cannot be the majority Tanzanians, for the latter live in their villages and may have never travelled outside the country and perhaps not even to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s business capital. As such, he affirms, it matters little to the large majority of Tanzanians. In a way this view was supported by Chachage in an interview with Sunday News (21 May 2006) whereby the latter was quoted as saying that dual citizenship was not a priority because there were many other pressing issues at that moment.
In the absence of such a headcount, it is important to note that according to one of the leading advocates for dual citizenship known as Abdul Wakil, the online ‘Dual Petition for Tanzanians’ was filed online at www.tanzaniacyberzone.com by Tanzanians living in America, that is, the USA. At the time Wakil announced that on 18 March 2004, as cached in The Africa Guide Forums, he noted that 450 signatures had been collected. By 17 November 2007 another leading advocate of dual citizenship and propagator of the petition, Apollo Temu, noted in Tanzania Edinburgh Community Association (TzECA) online yahoo group that at least 2,574 signatories had already endorsed the privately arranged petition. Even though the then posted petition can neither be accessed nor cached online, it is clear that the move was primarily a movement of Tanzanians abroad, the majority of whom come from middle class families in Tanzania.
I had an opportunity to visit the petition site once before it became inaccessible, and observed that I could recognise a number of the signatories who happened to belong to a class of Tanzanians who had relatively more access to civil, political and social rights which are the bedrock of citizenship as defined as ‘formal citizenship’ – these rights range from access to better social services to freedom(s) of movement as evidenced in their relatively easy access to passports and opportunities to go abroad for studies among other things.
It is Shivji’s response to the second question of his cited above that touches on the dilemma of being both a national and a citizen. After reviewing the above-discussed rationale(s) for maintaining single citizenship at the time of independence, which he affirms were centered on the question of building nationalism and national loyalty, he laments the irony that now, being over forty years after independence, the whole debate on citizenship is conducted without reference to nationalism, African identity and political loyalty to the nation-state which he sees as being connected. In regard to that connection, he also laments the irony that the issue of nationalism is not linked to the issue of pan-Africanism, which was so prominent in the nationalist debates of the 1950s and early 1960s.
By locating the debate of citizenship within the discourse of nationalism and the vision of pan-Africanism, Shivji is attempting ‘to transcend the contemporary conceptualization of citizenship, as simply formal citizenship’ [PDF 503kb] which Chachage ‘defined as membership of a nation-state and loyalty to the state and its policies as prescribed by the donor and international community, rather than an attempt to restructure the relations between the people and the state.’ In the wake of this conceptualisation, it is further observed, the vocabulary of ‘nationalism’ and ‘patriotism’ are increasingly being replaced by that of ‘citizenship.’
This bourgeoisie/elitist neo-liberal conceptualisation of belongingness overlooks the fact that to many of those who struggled for independence and their descendants, ‘formal citizenship’, as a form of belongingness, is not as readily accessible. It is relatively out of reach to the majority because the privileges that are associated with it are mainly confined – by the ‘party state’ – to the political, civic, academic and business elites who have the means and connections to access it. The following statement from the latest Tanzania Human Report issued by the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) in 2009 thus paints this state:
Poverty and Human Development Report (PHDR) 2007 [PDF 58kb], the many Tanzanians who do not fully enjoy the privileges of ‘formal citizenship’ also include those mothers whose children die at an infant mortality rate of 68 out of 1,000 live births and those whose children die before they reach the age of 5 at an under-five mortality rate of 112 per 1,000 live births. Moreover, it include each woman who is expected to die every hour from maternal causes in Tanzania whereby the leading causes, according to PHDR 2007, are haemorrhage, sepsis, unsafe abortion, pregnancy-induced hypertension and obstructed labour.
Thus, in a way, by unmasking the way dual citizenship is also conventionally conceptualised as ‘formal citizenship’, Shivji is showing that to be a citizen does not necessarily mean to be a national and vice versa. This point about citizenship vis-à-vis nationality is elaborated further below. Here it important to take note of the fact that in the case of Africa in general and Tanzania in particular, post-colonial citizenship was a product of the struggle(s) – by the majority – for a form of inclusive belongingness that transcends the one introduced by the colonial state whereby to be a citizen was to have access to what others didn’t have access to.
In other words, Africans became African nationals, and nationalists for that matter, way before they won their right to citizenship after gaining independence. As it has been shown in my earlier essay , the flow of remittances to the so-called sub-Saharan Africa in 2007 amounted to US$10.8 billion. Even though this flow is low compared to other world regions, as Mercer, Page and Martin note, it is still very significant when it is measured relative to the total inward flow to the area. They also note those who support the migrations associated with these flows claim that the benefits that Africa and other regions gain view remittances as constituting money, ideas, values and other social remittances return to these regions. They further note that, apart from those individuals who send remittances to their own family members, there are some who are using their social and welfare associations to generate collective remittances.
These remittances are then sent to earmarked development projects in their respective regions. Remittances, they affirm, can reduce foreign exchange and thus offset what economists refer to as balance of payment deficit. By the very fact that the flow involves exchange of currency this offsetting, it is thus claimed, is done without incurring interest liabilities. They also assert that this type of flow does not necessarily increase the level of imports of foreign goods or services because those families who receive the remittances often spend them on public services and other forms of consumption that often puts money into local economies. The reason that Africa receive less remittance compared to other continents is partly explained by 'the existing analysis of remittances' which, it is further asserted, ‘argues that the determining factors governing the scale and patterns of international remittance flows are fundamentally financial (relative wage levels, exchange and interest rates, investment environments, economic stability in Africa and financial capacity)’. It is these determining factors that the introduction of dual citizenship in Tanzania is expected to influence for the sake of Tanzanian ‘development’.
In the case of Tanzanians abroad, the claims cited above resonates with their situation especially in the current context whereby a number of associations – ranging from foreign branches of the ruling party to associations of Tanzanians living in a particular city or country abroad – are mushrooming. In a significant way the decision of the government of Tanzania to change all the passports of its eligible citizens in 2005 contributed to the formation of these associations and/or consolidation of those that were already in existence. At that time I was studying at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland whereby TzECA mobilised itself and invited officials from the Tanzanian Embassy in the United Kingdom (UK) to come and facilitate the process of issuing of passports.
A more or less similar level of mobilisation was observed in the Los Angeles Community which recently met with President Kikwete. Since then the former community which runs an online yahoo group with a membership of at least 92 people and currently host a website has widened its scope and it is now linked to a number of initiatives of supporting development/philanthropic work in Tanzania. Some of its members have also formed a Non-Government Organisation (NGO) in the UK. Understandably the chairperson of the TzECA, Apollo Temu, is an ardent supporter of the introduction of dual citizenship in Tanzania and, as it has been hinted above, was one of the pioneers involved in mobilising Tanzanians to sign a petition for dual citizenship. The Los Angeles Community, which also runs a yahoo group, is also attempting to widen its scope in terms of contributing to the development of Tanzania and, expectedly, its leader, Iddy Mtango, also supported the petition for dual citizenship.
The arguments for dual citizenship advanced by some members of these Tanzanian diasporic communities make are in sharp contrast to those presented by the above mentioned critics from the intellectual community at the University of Dar- es-Salaam. For instance, in a public online exchange in response to Shivji’s argument in favour African citizenship versus dual citizenship discussed above, Temu argues that patriotism in the 21st Century should never be determined by people’s postal addresses since it surely does not come from ones' postcode but, rather, from one's code of conduct in relation to his/her nation. Somewhere else he laments what he refers to as the misplaced views that people from Tanzania who live outside Tanzania are less patriotic. As if to pick a leaf from Nyerere’s above-cited assertion that the terms of the debate on citizenship in 1964 were not the same as the ones in 1961, Temu also asserts that these debates in the 1960s are not the same as the current ones in the 2000s as their contexts differs significantly.
It is these contextual shifts, normally attributed to the intensification of globalisation and transnationalism, which led two professors of migration and citizenship respectively, Stephen Castles and Alastair Davidson, to argue in 2000 – in their book on dated 14 June 2004 and made publicly available on its official website, asserted that due to intense globalisation and in recognition of the potential benefits that can be generated from it, the Commission recommended the introduction of a multilateral framework for cross border movement of people as a way of sharing those benefits between nations. To that end it eloquently ‘suggested measures to stimulate such process of skill circulation that could include the acceptance of dual citizenship by both host and sending countries’ [PDF] and unilaterally affirmed that clearly 'early 20th Century perceptions of state sovereignty, citizenship, nationality and inter-state relations, will have to change and adapt to the new forces of globalization’. Its accompanying Position paper on the introduction of dual citizenship in Tanzania [PDF] thus concluded about dual citizenship being a given fact of globalisation before it even conducted its said assessment – which was supposed to show if that was/is so – and presented its above-critiqued report to the government in 2006:
'The movement towards embracing dual citizenship is slowly gaining momentum as nations become aware that their national security may not necessarily be jeopardised by mere application of dual citizenship under the present circumstances of intense globalization and technological advancements which have melted territorial boundaries and merged the world into a global village. Thus, accepting dual citizenship may now be considered to be in the national interest, as it will facilitate flow of investment, transfer of technology and infusion of democratic values, while at the same time, permitting a nation to affirm its identity. It is, in any case, too late for the entrenchment of dual citizenship to be received, as it has become a fact of globalisation.’
However, all these pro-globalisation conceptualisations have a blind spot that subject them to historical amnesia: They ignore that historically and conceptually globalisation, or globalism to put it more crudely, is part and parcel of Imperialism which has and is still eroding the freedoms and rights of those in the margins of the so-called Global Village, who happen to be nationals of ‘nation-states’ who cannot access the privileges of multiple or dual citizenship let alone those of single citizenship that they are still struggling to reclaim from states whose laws and policies, including those on citizenship, are now prescribed by International Financial Institutions (IFIs) and ‘development partners’ rather than the very people who struggled to decolonise those states.
In 2007 Frederick Longino, another TzECA member, went as far as publishing his affirmative views in a local Tanzanian newspaper – The Daily News. In his article there entitled What does dual citizenship (or dual nationality) mean to Tanzanians? he asserted that it is a fact that there are more benefits in terms of economic opportunities and cultural expansion than risks in allowing dual citizenship, hence he lamented that Tanzania was ever slow to wake up to the said fact. After presenting those claimed advantages, such as broadening the country’s economic base by promoting trade and investment between countries sharing citizens, the enjoyment of the privilege of voting in those countries, owning property/land and accessing government health care and education across the given countries, Longino offers a radical conceptual suggestion.
Perhaps, he cautiously suggests, the time has come as well for a new designation to reflect the shedding of what he calls the old baggage, that is, the so-called old anxieties about ‘dual nationality’. Here he is referring to what made Tanganyikans/Tanzanians be wary of that duality in the wake and immediate aftermath of Uhuru and the Union as discussed above. The historical origins of the said anxieties, which he aptly advise us to explore and examine their relevance in a changed international context, are said to be far more prosaic than what he calls the spectre of spies and saboteurs. Indeed this is a spectre that haunted Africa’s post-colonial states in the wake of assassinations and military coups that swept the continent during the then Cold, albeit hot, War between what was known as the Western Bloc led by the USA with its CIA and the Eastern Bloc led by the then USSR with its KGB. It is a spectre that still troubles a number of radical nationalists who are wary of the ‘War on terror’ and the quest for the militarisation of the continent through the , what was inherited in Africa was in effect states and not nations or states without nations. The first task, then, of the nationalist leaders who took power, as it has been noted above, was to embark on a project of national building. In doing so, however, most of them ended up creating despotic party states. In fact the national building project turned out to be a statist developmentalist project whereby the state hijacked the civil society so as to direct if not dictate it on how it should bring about modernity in the name of modernisation. It is these states that became custodians of citizenship.
As the cases discussed above show, this statist custodianship usurped the role of remaking citizenship from the very aspiring nationals, that is, the majority of people, who, as nationalists, fought for independence so they can have the right to self-determination which included, among other things, the right to define forms of citizenship they aspired to within the realm of social struggles aimed at transforming the relation between the state and society. What they wanted to achieve through decolonisation was nothing less than the nationalisation of citizenship. Theirs was therefore an attempt to achieve a form of citizenship that amounts to nationality. Co-nationality can only be a non-starter unless post-colonial nationality/citizenship is fully achieved.
This debate on dual citizenship that bedevilled independent African states in the wake of decolonisation in the 1960s is indeed back on the agenda. The international/national context which informed that debate, as it has been shown in this article, has changed. However, the international/national power relations that coloured that context, as it has also been discussed in the article, have not significantly changed. In the case of The Tanzania Citizenship Act of 1995, as the Law Reform Commission has aptly noted, there has ‘also’ been ‘public concerns regarding the rigidity of our citizenship laws, which seem to favour foreigners, seeking to become Tanzania citizens, as against former nationals (of Diaspora) who may have been compelled to emigrate and to take up foreign nationalities for social and economic reasons, as well as the gender insensitivity of the current Citizenship Law, which does not appear to confer equal rights between male and female citizens in bequeathing citizenship to their children.’ [PDF]
It is these fundamental concerns that need to be prioritised instead of confining them to the ‘also’ that prompted the Commission to study the citizenship laws and assess the viability and acceptability of dual citizenship in Tanzania. One need to adequately address these concerns regarding our gendered and ‘classed’ single citizenship which renders the majority subjects of the state before one can think of the possibility of dual or multiple citizenships, lest the conceptualisation and operationalisation of the latter reproduce that gendering and ‘classing’.
Thus that most fundamental concern, of decolonising the colonial subjects and transforming them into post-colonial citizens, is as relevant today as – and more urgent in the 2000s than – it was in the 1960s. As Mamdani noted in 2001 in his call to move Beyond settler and native as political identities: Overcoming the political legacy of colonialism, the lamented state of collapse in Africa in Afropessimistic circles is in fact the collapse of the bifurcated colonial state which the post-colonial states have not fundamentally transformed so as to do away with its duality. It is these dualities of the settler versus the native, the urban versus the rural, the informal versus the formal, the man versus the woman, the white versus the black, the state versus the society, the privileged versus the underprivileged and so on and on that need to be urgently dealt with squarely and honestly.
All this amount to recentering the debate of citizenship on the question of self-determination of those nationals who would not have the luxury of dual citizenship let alone that of single citizenship simply because ‘their’ neo-colonial states are busy conceptualising and operationalising citizenship as a formal citizenship that is inaccessible to the majority. Why grant dual citizenship to a ‘minority’ when you can’t even fully grant single citizenship to the ‘majority’? Surely we cannot afford to allow further growth of first and second class citizenship!
* This article is based on a paper titled When Does a Native or Settler Become a Dual Citizen? presented at the 3rd European Conference on African Studies (ECAS) held at Leipzig, Germany (4 - 7 June 2009)
* Chambi Chachage is an independent researcher, newspaper columnist and policy analyst, based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/.