In the next few months Lesotho nationals holding South African identity cards will have to decide which country they really want to belong to.
They are being forced to make this choice because South Africa has changed its citizenship laws.
The Citizens Amendment Act of 2010 says people who come from countries that prohibit dual citizenship cannot hold dual citizenship in South Africa.
This has a huge impact on the thousands of Basotho who had acquired South African IDs for convenience despite that dual citizenship is illegal under section 41 of the Lesotho constitution.
Their actions are illegal but understandable.
Job opportunities are scarce in Lesotho and the salaries are generally low.
Those who have acquired South African IDs but have opted to remain Lesotho citizens have done so for practical purposes and not the mere desire of being citizens of two countries.
We doubt many Basotho would aggressively seek to hold dual citizenship if Lesotho had the same opportunities as they are pursuing in South Africa.
We would like to believe those who have acquired South African IDs are patriotic Basotho who are only leaving this country because the grass is greener on the other side.
South Africa is their workplace but Lesotho remains their home.
To force them to choose between a country that provides them a means to earn a living and a country that is their Fatherland will be unfair.
It will be tantamount to forcing them to forsake their birthright for the sake of jobs. If they renounce their South African citizenship they are likely to find it difficult to get jobs there.
Many will have to go through the strenuous process of getting work permits.
Thousands will certainly have their applications rejected.
There is no doubt that many will have to come back to Lesotho to fight for the same limited opportunities with those who have remained here.
The departure of those Basotho will certainly affect South Africa’s industry but we doubt the impact will be calamitous.
South African companies can still tap in on the large pool of foreigners who are already jostling to get into the country.
The jobs Basotho will leave in South Africa will be taken by people from other countries.
The biggest loser will be Lesotho.
Basotho working in South Africa bring millions of rands back to Lesotho every year. They are feeding families and educating relatives.
Many are investing back home.
Allow them to be kicked out of South Africa and that steady income flowing from across the border will stop.
They will come to scramble for the few opportunities in Lesotho.
Those that opt to be South African will be a huge loss to Lesotho as a country.
This is because although they are working in South Africa they remain Basotho who would one day use their skills to develop Lesotho.
Basotho engineers, teachers, doctors, scientists and pharmacists building the South African economy remain our people.
One day they will return to serve this country.
We must remember that most of them were educated by Lesotho.
They have their roots here. Their relatives are here.
It is encouraging that the South African law does not outrightly prohibit dual citizenship.
It only applies to South African ID holders who come from countries that prohibit dual citizenship.
That means if Lesotho does not want its people to make the choice between it and South Africa then it has to repeal its dual citizenship law.
That shouldn’t be a difficult thing to do.
We don’t see the economic benefit of section 41 to Lesotho.
How does dual citizenship hurt our economy, political stability and sovereignty? What does it benefit Lesotho to cling on to a law that blocks Basotho from copious opportunities across the border?
Countries like the United States, Britain and South Africa itself allow dual citizenship.
What disaster has befallen those countries because of that policy?
The Lesotho government needs to be practical and act fast before Basotho start entering its borders in droves.
The coalition government must seek to repeal section 41 or it will be blamed when matters come to a head.