Dual citizenship gets thumbs up

Dual citizenship gets thumbs up

MASERU – THE Development for Peace Education (DPE) says the majority of Basotho support moves to allow dual citizenship.
But there are swathes of the population who do not support it.
This came to light at a round-table discussion held by the DPE in Maseru where the civic group unpacked communities’ voices on dual citizenship and on the challenges facing women and girls in Lesotho.

DPE researcher ‘Mabataung Secker said they went around the country conducting some research on how Basotho feel about dual citizenship.
“The responses we got shows that Basotho really like dual citizenship although not all are into it but most of them said the law of dual citizenship is good and it should be passed because some Basotho work in South Africa and they could enjoy staying there with their kids freely,” Secker said.

She said some Basotho said if there are people who want to be citizens of Lesotho, they should be granted that right.
And they should also be allowed to take part in elections if they want.
“Many Basotho said people who want to be citizens of Lesotho should be allowed to and be able to own natural resources in the country. But they should qualify to be citizens after five years of stay in the country,” Secker said.

She said the majority of their interviewees were against the fact that when a Mosotho woman marries a foreign man, that man is not allowed to be a Mosotho.
This is because at the moment, when a Mosotho man marries a foreign woman, such a woman becomes a Mosotho.
They have argued that is unfair and both men and women should be treated equally, she said.
Secker said their interviewees also argued that when a foreigner is married to a Mosotho and are both staying in Lesotho, the foreigner should still be allowed to stay in Lesotho even after the death of the partner.

She said they have also argued that if the amendment of the dual citizenship is passed, passports should no longer be used at the border gates.
She said the government of Lesotho will have to communicate with their South African counterpart so that Basotho who want to be South African citizens should be allowed to do so.
Mabote Member of Parliament Fako Moshoeshoe said changing the culture and norms will be a very big challenge for Basotho.
“Cultures and norms such as girls being allowed to inherit the properties that belong to their parents and many women being in politics is also a challenge but we have to make sure that these things change,” Moshoeshoe said.

He said it is for this reason that Lesotho has embarked on reforms adding we must deal with such matters wisely.
He argued that laws should be reviewed so that “we could make this country a better place”.
“We should not only focus on the girls and boys should be also considered,” Moshoeshoe said. Secker said they decided to conduct the study so as to know different perspectives of Basotho citing that this was undertaken to find out the challenges women and girls face in the socio-economic, cultural and political and governance issues.

“The study was conducted in 10 villages of Matsieng in Maseru with 364 women and 223 men participating in the survey,’’ she said.
She said the purpose of the study was to evaluate the status of the country in making women part of the decision-making processes, to find ways of making local government budget meaningful to women.

“To assess popular view on the rights of women and the plight of the girl child was one of the purposes of the study,’’ Secker said.
She said the findings shall be used to make informed decisions as the organisation interacts with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), parliament and relevant committees, ministers and bodies working on women and girls’ issues.

She said despite legislation designed to protect girls, they still appear inferior.
Secker said their main concern was whether the girls have the same rights as boys in inheriting their parents or guardians’ properties, land and chieftainship.
“Although Lesotho has made commendable strides in enhancing women representation notably through reservation of 30 percent of Local Government seats for women, the number of women in Local Government and the National Assembly is still low ,’’ she said.

“Despite the drafting of the Domestic Violence Bill following consultative process, the Bill has not been tabled in parliament and the people in particular women continue to suffer,’’ she said.
Most of the respondents, she said, mentioned that legislation should be passed as soon as possible before the end of the year and citizens must have a say before passing of Bills.
Secker said in line with the findings which were outlined, they concluded that there is need for a review of laws on chieftainship.

Political parties and the government should be persuaded to adopt an affirmative stance that increases the number of women in the decision-making, she said.
She said the Domestic Violence Bill must be tabled in parliament and 30 percent of budget should be dedicated to women empowerment.

Thooe Ramolibeli & Refiloe Mpobole

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