MASERU — South Africa’s home affairs department says the decision to outlaw dual citizenship for people who come from countries that prohibit dual citizenship is not targeted at Basotho.
The department however admits that Lesotho nationals holding South African IDs will be the most affected by the Citizenship Act 2010 which was enacted in October 2010 and came into effect on January 1.
Bonakele Mayekiso, the Department of Home Affairs Provincial Manager for the Free State Province, told the Lesotho Times that due to Amendment Act 2010, foreign nationals from countries forbidding dual citizenship should “surrender either one of the two”.
“If you are a Mosotho holding both a Lesotho passport and South African ID, you will be forced to renounce one of the two in line with our law and that of Lesotho,” Mayekiso said.
Asked how South Africa was going to identify such citizens, Mayekiso said the first stop would be at border posts where people’s passports are scanned.
He said the identification system would show if someone holds dual citizenship.
“We will take it from there and ask whether they are aware that they are breaking the law by holding dual citizenship. We will formally write to them and if they don’t comply, they will be compelled to,” Mayekiso said.
“We know that most Basotho are aware that it is illegal to hold dual citizenship but they would never admit if you asked. People have known all along.”
Mayekiso said the South African government was not necessarily planning to push Basotho out in a hostile manner but that it was “just a matter of implementing existing laws”.
“It’s not a question of South Africa pushing people out in a hostile manner.
“The law is here and our people are committed to implementing the existing laws,” Mayekiso said.
However, Mayekiso said the stringent conditions would not apply to countries in whose laws dual citizenship is catered for, making an example of Britain.
“We have British South African citizens but we do not have a problem with them because both our countries cater for dual citizenship in their laws,” Mayekiso said.
“This thing is very simple. If you are a Mosotho holding dual citizenship, you renounce either one of the two.
“If you come from a country allowing dual citizenship, we don’t have a problem with you.”