The Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2020 will finally be tabled before Parliament after it was published in the Government Gazette of October 30.
The new Bill by the Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs, Anna Mokgethi seeks to amend sections of the Citizenship Act to align with the age of majority set out in the Interpretation Act, which reduced the age of majority from 21 years to 18 years following an amendment by Parliament back in 2010.
The Bill proposes to amend Section 9 of the Citizenship Act, which makes provision for registration of persons under the age of 21 as citizens where the father or mother of such person has become a citizen of Botswana.
The Bill also proposes to amend Section 15 of the Citizenship Act, which makes for provision for dual citizenship up to the age of 21.
“It is therefore proposed that sections 9 and 15 of the Citizenship Act be amended by substituting the words 21 years with 18 years so that the provisions are consistent with the age of majority which has been reduced from 21 years to 18 years,” read the Government Gazette.In December 2019, Parliament adopted a motion requesting the Ministry of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs to amend the Citizenship Act to make it a default position that one retains the Botswana citizen unless they specifically renounce it. Member of Parliament for Maun East Goretetse Kekgonegile had tabled the motion.
Despite Mokgethi stating at the time that the process to amend Section 15 has already begun, the new Bill focuses on amending the age part.
Mokgethi had said the amendments would also look at protecting those with dual citizenship from automatically losing their Botswana citizenship when they fail to renounce the other.
With the current Act, any person with dual citizenship automatically ceases to be a citizen of Botswana unless they renounce the other nationality upon reaching the age of 21 years.