Posts Tagged ‘passport’

The newspapers have been awash with stories of how the political parties have padded their membership list with people who are actually not members, in fact none of these people in question had even been asked if they wanted to be members in the first place. All this has been done in order for the political parties to be able to meet the eligibility criteria required for the next general elections. The law states that a political party must have a certain number of members who are registered voters in all provinces of the country.

The funny thing is that all the news stories are dwelling more on the outrage that the public has felt about being enrolled in one party or another without their permission (this includes a sitting member of parliament) rather than calling the crime what it is………IDENTITY THEFT!

I have always read and heard about identity theft, but always from the perspective that it is a developed world phenomenon. I mean what are you going to do with my identity details? Bureaucracy slows down everything in Africa that surely I will cotton on to an identity thief in no time. Really?

I have been disturbed for years about the Kenyan practice of handing over ones ID card every time you walk through a gate or into a building. The security guards note down your name, ID number and your phone number. In many cases they actually hold onto the card while you do your business wherever. This practice is even more widespread when one considers that hotels, phone companies, supermarkets, banks etc routinely photocopy ID cards and passports for all manner of reasons.

In an environment where there is no data protection act in in existence the public is entirely at the mercy of people who routinely collect this information and do with it as they please. So it is no surprise that thousands of people have found themselves members of political parties no one has ever heard of. Their identities have been stolen and we have lost our innocence. We will mature when this new crime gravitates from the voters list to white collar crime……….I hold my breath!


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The issue of dual citizenship has been of intense interest to east Africans over the last few years and a post on this log on this topic has been possibly the most popular of any I have written. I have contemplated taking up Kenyan citizenship, but was never sure how to go about it, especially with the rules on the issue not quite being in the public domain. So I was pleasantly surprised to find the details of the Ugandan law online and have prepared some highlights below:

The Legal Basis
The Uganda Citizenship and Immigration Control (Amendment) Act, 2009 provides for dual citizenship. Dual citizenship, according to the Act, means the simultaneous possession of two citizenships one of which is Ugandan. A citizen of Uganda of 18 years and above who voluntarily acquires the citizenship of a country other than Uganda may retain the citizenship of Uganda.
A person swho is not a citizen of Uganda may, on acquiring the citizenship of Uganda, retain the citizenship of another country.

However there is a process that must be fulfilled, one does not simply acquire a new citizenship and then sit back:
A citizen of Uganda who desires to acquire the citizenship of another country while retaining his or her citizenship of Uganda shall give notice in writing to National Citizenship and Immigration Board of his or her application for the citizenship of another country. A copy of the application for citizenship of that other country must be submitted.

It is also important to note that tri-nationality is not permitted:
Where the person is a citizen of Uganda and another country, a declaration of renunciation of the citizenship of the third country must be submitted.

Acquisition by a non-citizen of Uganda of Uganda Citizenship while retaining the Citizenship of another country.
A non-Ugandan citizen who wishes to acquire the citizenship of Uganda while retaining the citizenship of another country shall satisfy the following conditions for citizenship:

Satisfy the board that the laws of his or her country of origin permit him or her to hold dual citizenship;
Not be the subject of a deportation order from Uganda territory or any other country;
Not be under a sentence of death or imprisonment exceeding nine months imposed by a competent court, without the option of a fine;
Satisfy the board that he or she has been resident in Uganda for not less than 10 years;
Satisfy the board that he or she has adequate knowledge of any prescribed vernacular language in Uganda or of English or Swahili;
Satisfy the board that he or she has not been in Uganda as a refugee or as a diplomat;
He or she possesses rare skills and capacity for technology transfer;
Be willing to take the oath of allegiance;
Be a person of sound mind.


A person applying for dual citizenship shall, before being registered, satisfy the board that:
He or she is not engaged in espionage against Uganda;
He or she has not served in the voluntary service of the armed forces or security forces of a country hostile to or at war with Uganda;
He or she has not attempted to acquire Ugandan citizenship by fraud, deceit or bribery or by intentional or otherwise deliberate false statements in an application for citizenship;
He or she does not have a criminal record;
The laws of his or her country of origin permit dual citizenship;
He or she is, at the time of application, of or above 18 years of age;
He or she is of sound mind;
Does not hold more than one citizenship;
Is not an undischarged bankrupt or insolvent.

Offices of State which a person holding Dual Citizenship is not qualified to hold

President, Vice President,Prime Minister, Cabinet Minister and other Ministers, Inspector General and the Deputy Inspector General of Government,Technical Heads of Branches of the Armed Forces, Commanding Officers of the Armed Forces Units of at least battalion strength, Officers responsible for heading departments responsible for records, personnel and logistics in all branches of the Armed Forces, Inspector General of Police and Deputy Inspector General of Police, Heads and Deputy Heads of national Security and Intelligence Organisations (ESO, ISO and CMI), Members of the National Citizenship and Immigration Board.

Use of Travel Documents by Dual National
A citizen who holds the citizenship of another country in addition to the citizenship of Uganda shall:
Be issued with a Ugandan passport or travel documents;
Be permitted to remain in Uganda without limitation if the person enters Uganda on a Ugandan passport;
Leave Uganda on the same passport that the person used to enter the country; and
A citizen of Uganda who is also a citizen of any other country shall while in Uganda be subject to the laws of Uganda as any other citizen.
A dual citizen commits an offence when a Ugandan passport is used by the person interchangeably with the passport of another country to deceive an Immigration Officer.

The board may terminate a dual national of his or her Ugandan citizenship if:
1. Upon any of the grounds specified in sections above
2. If that person acquires a third citizenship.
Where a person ceases to be a citizen of Uganda, he or she shall be regarded as a citizen or national of the country, of which he or she was a citizen or national before becoming a Ugandan citizen.

Consequences of Loss of Ugandan Citizenship
Where a person ceases to be a Ugandan citizen, he or she shall cease to enjoy the rights of a Ugandan citizen except rights to property acquired legally while the person was a citizen.
Where a person ceases to be a Ugandan citizen, he or she shall not thereby be discharged from any obligation, duty or liability in respect of any act done or committed before he or she ceased to be a citizen of Uganda.

Re-acquisition of Ugandan Citizenship by a Ugandan
A person who was a citizen of Uganda by birth and who on acquiring the citizenship of another country renounced his or her Ugandan citizenship, may apply to the board in the prescribed manner to re-acquire his or her former Ugandan citizenship.
The board may allow a former Ugandan citizen to re-acquire his or her Ugandan citizenship if it is satisfied that the grounds for the loss of his or her Ugandan citizenship are of no adverse effect to the public order and security of Uganda.
A person who re-acquires Ugandan citizenship under this section shall be required to take the oath of allegiance.

Fees Schedule:

By people who were formally Ugandans (in Diaspora) US $400
Dual citizenship – foreigners US $500
Dual citizenship – Ugandan in Diaspora US $400


Source: The Uganda Citizenship and Immigration Control (Amendment) Act, 2009
Date of Assent: 15th July 2009

Date of Commencement: 21st August 2009

For the time being, applicants are advised to contact the Board directly on the following address:

The Chairperson,
National Citizenship and Immigration Board,
Ministry of Internal Affairs,
Plot 75 Jinja Road,
P. O. Box 7191,
Kampala, Uganda

Tel: +256-414-258355
Fax: +256-414-343088
E-mail: info@mia.go.ug
Website: http://www.mia.go.ug

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Over the last few years the Uganda government has mulled over the steady flow of professionals out of the country and onward to the greener pastures that are offered by south Africa, Europe, North America and increasingly Australia. Like our parents, there was always the reassuring feeling that ‘east or west, home is best’, the migrants would one day return home from ‘kyeyo’. Kyeyo literally means to sweep, but it is also the slang word used to mean someone heading to the developed world for better career opportunities.

Uganda has always had a diaspora, starting in the 1970s during the brutal regime of Idi Amin hundreds of thousands moved across the border to other East African countries and onwards to lands unknown, just to get away from unbelievable brutality. The essence of the migration was political and personal safety, or lack thereof.

The current migration is far different, the population in question is younger, well educated and frustrated by the lack of opportunities back home. They are also highly westernised. Though the west they head to is far more protectionist, xenophobic and less welcoming of refugees, whether political or economic.

They kyeyo boys and girls soon find that the immigration regimes and the workplace issues make it necessary and increasingly helpful to take up the nationality of the country the have settled in. The price they pay is having to renounce their Ugandan citizenship as dual nationality is not permitted under Ugandan law.

In reality most ‘Ugandans’ illegally keep their Ugandan passports and use them when they travel back to kampala, that way they do not have to pay $50 visa fees. Everyone knows this is going on, the authorities do not have the heart to follow this up and prosecute. However, it is still an illegality.

The dual nationality law that was passed last year by the parliament, but not yet signed by the president allows the diaspora to regain their Ugandan citizenship and thus maintain their ties to the ‘motherland’. The economic benefits are not to be sniffed at, it is estimated ugandans abroad repatriate $500million.

For the diaspora it means that they can travel easily all over the world with their developed world passports, but also have easy access to uaganda and the East African community states. It also assures them of their cultural land rights, political rights and access to the economy. Though it must be said that Uganda is extremely liberal when it comes to access allowed to foreigners on immigration, purchase of land and economic investments.

Not be left behind Kenya has proposed dual nationality in its new constitution, Hving faced the same predicament of large migrations of skilled professional to OECD countries. Should the constitution be approved in the coming referendum then any Kenyan born person can reapply for citizenship.

Here is my question: I am a Ugandan living in Kenya, I qualify for citizenship simply on the grounds of living here for long enough. Ugandan law would allow me to keep my Ugandan passport, but Kenyan law say I would have to give it up as dual citizenship can only be granted by Kenya to Kenyan born person. A legal conundrum?

But hang on, the East African common market says I can live and work any where I want within the borders of Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi. So do I need to acquire Kenyan citizenship? Only time will tell?

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