The Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Dr. Stergomena Tax, speaks in the parliament in Dodoma . PHOTO | MERCIFUL MUNUO

Tanzanians in the Diaspora to get special status by December

Dar es Salaam. Tanzania is set to complete the process of instituting special status for its citizens living in the Diaspora by the end of 2023.

Winding up debate on her docket’s Sh247.9 billion budget for 2023/24, Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation minister Stergomena Tax told Parliament the government recognises the role of Tanzanians in diaspora and that it will complete the process of granting them special status (Tanzania Non-Citizen Diaspora) by December.

“Diaspora made 10 recommendations that have been considered and will be included in the special status arrangement, but in the endorsements, there was no suggestion of divine rights,” she said.

Dr Tax added that what the diaspora wanted was to be able to enter the country, own land and access financial services, all of which have been considered in the proposed special status framework.

Presenting the budget earlier, she told the House that the move was among the ministry’s plans for 2023/24 that are meant enable the Tanzanian diaspora to fully contribute to the country’s development.

Dr Tax noted that the diaspora should play a greater role in the country’s economic undertakings as the government strives to create an enabling environment for this endeavour.

“The ministry compiled the views of various stakeholders inside and outside the country, including from the diaspora. The views have classified issues that should be considered in the special status arrangement,” she said.

Unlike its regional peers Kenya and Uganda, Tanzania has yet to allow dual citizenship, a matter that emerged again in Parliament yesterday.

Legislators were divided on the issue when debating the ministry’s budget.

Prof Palamagamba Kabudi (Mvomero-CCM) said the relevant issue in the country currently is special status and asked the ministry to finalise the matter to help the diaspora.

“Now, this is better than what we keep debating, which is the issue of dual citizenship. This dual citizenship matter has no framework in this country, but it also has no agenda elsewhere in the world and so we should hold on to special status and push it forward,” he said.

Prof Kabudi added that his research shows that only 49 percent of countries in the world embrace dual citizenship.

Prof Kitila Mkumbo (Ubungo-CCM) said what they were fighting for was not someone else coming to apply for Tanzanian citizenship, but rather they were concerned about Tanzanians losing their divine right.

He said studies show that one of the ways to resolve jobs the jobs crisis academics are facing is to prepare people to become citizens of the world so that they can find jobs by removing obstacles.

“If it comes to dual citizenship or special status, it is not a problem for me. The big issue is how do we protect the rights of our people who go to look for opportunities in other countries,” said Prof Mkumbo.

Ms Fakharia Shomari (Special Seats-CCM) said it is still too early for Tanzania to allow dual citizenship and the country should continue to consider special status because it provides everything the diaspora needs.

In response, Dr Tax noted that the issue of dual citizenship is still open to debate in Tanzania and beyond.

She said President Samia Suluhu Hassan has strived to make sure that the diaspora who are in foreign countries and who Tanzanians are by birth get their rights and emphasised the process of granting them special status.

“If you grant dual citizenship right now when there is no national and international framework, there are those who may miss out on the opportunities that we hope to provide,” she warned.

According to Dr Tax, diaspora’s remittances and investments in the economic and social sectors in the country have continued to increase.

In the period from January to December 2022, diaspora invested about Sh4.4 billion in the purchase of houses and plots through National Housing Corporation, Orange Tanzania Ltd (Hamidu City Park), and KC Land Development Plan Consultant Ltd.

The investment is equivalent to an increase of Sh2.2 billion invested in the period from January to December 2021.

In another development, Dr Tax said that the assessment of the ministry’s foreign affairs policy has identified new areas that need to be included in the policy and brought up new strategies for the implementation of the policy, to match the current and future environment including emphasis on economic diplomacy.

The Sh247.9 billion Parliament approved for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs East African Cooperation’s recurrent and development expenditure is significantly higher than the Sh208.3 billion allocated for the current financial year.