A citizen is anyone who is a member of a state while citizenship is the process in which one becomes a member of that state.

parentsThe Namibian citizenship has been on everyone’s lips since the debate wherein the Ministry of Home Affairs was taken to court by Dutch parents who seemed to understand the Immigration law.

It came as an outrage when this Dutch parents who have work permits, registered their first child as a Namibian and when they tried to register their second child also born in Namibia after nine years the child was refused a birth certificate. This was the case even though there wasn’t any change in legislation that could hinder this.

The parents took Home Affairs to court.

The court ruled in favor of the Dutch parents and Home Affairs was ordered to issue a birth certificate within 30 days. The Minister of Home Affairs then drafted an urgent amendment to the citizenship act of 1990. This was unfortunately turned down by the National Council.

Many deem this to be unthoughtful strategies and abrupt reactiveness to situations.

In this particular case who can acquire citizenship?

Article 4(1) states that a child born in Namibia to non-Namibians citizen will be a Namibian citizen by birth or to a parent who is ordinarily and legally resident in the country.

Home Affairs refused to give their second child citizenship because the parents had work permits and were not ordinary residents of the country.

But what exactly does it mean to be an ordinary resident?

Precedence have been set out in a court of law that defined ordinary resident as “A person’s ordinary residence would be the country to which he would naturally reside on a permanent basis or reside more often and as a matter of course return from his wanderings; as contrasted with other lands it might be called his usual or principal residence and it would be described more aptly than other countries as his real home”.

The constitution also states undoubtedly how one can acquire and lose citizenship.

The role of the judiciary is to interpret and uphold the law and Home Affairs had no right to interpret the law as it deemed fit. What is more is that Article 81 of the constitution goes to state that “a decision of the supreme court shall be binding on all other courts of Namibia and all persons in Namibia unless it is reversed by the Supreme Court, or is contradicted by an Act of parliament lawfully enacted.”

Our members of parliament made laws some of which they are definitely not happy with. It has come as a reoccurrence in which Home Affairs have to be taken to court because of a disregard of the constitutional privileges and principles.

Do our government officials really understand the constitution or is this a case of misinterpretation of the law on purpose so as to waste court time?

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by Sonia Kalomo

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