Tanzanians Living Abroad Mourn Death Of Former Minister Of Foreign Affairs: He Fought For Adopting Dual Citizenship

Tanzania former Foreign Affairs minister, Benard Kamillius Membe(69), has died of Respiratory complications, according to his physicians, Prof Harun Nyagori at Kairuki Hospital in Dar es salaam, May 12, 2023

It was an unexpected, sudden death. In her condolence message, President Samia described Membe as a “competent diplomat and public servant,” saying the politician served his country “professionally.”

Membe served as the Foreign Affairs minister from 2007 to 2015 under the Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete’s administration. also served as a Member of Parliament for Mtama Constituency  from 2000 to 2015.

He is remembered, among other things for advocating dual citizenship, a legal status at the one time recognized by more than one country under its nationality law as a national or citizen of that country.

For many years, the diaspora  have been calling for Tanzania to adopt dual citizenship, but the government has been rejecting the demand saying it would pose a threat to national security.

National security is frequently cited as the main reason for making Tanzania among seven African countries with no dual citizenship that are Cameroon, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea and Ethiopia.

It is estimated  that almost 4 million Tanzanians live abroad, and in 2022, $1.1 billion remittance was sent home.

Benard Membe was one of few public figures who walked high saying he doesn’t  see any harm in granting dual citizenship.

He was saying, to have second citizenship is not a crime but just a smartness.

“The person living abroad has not fled from Tanzania because of political persecution  but has gone to look for a green pasture, so when one is granted status of citizenship, should not count as a criminal, a traitor, but among Tanzanians who are working abroad and sent home remittances which contribute to the country  economy and development”, he used to say.

Asseri Katanga, a Tanzanian from Kagera Region,Northwest of Tanzania who has been living in the UK since 1979, when contacted by First Newsroom on how they received the shock news of Membe tragic demise, had this to say.

“We received the news with much sadness of the death of Bernard Membe.

As a Diaspora, we have lost a man who had a vision of the many benefits which he championed during his life. He clearly stated those benefits which are obvious to so many but some in the authority seem to be oblivious to them.

During his time he visited the UK from time to time and he assured us that he was fighting our corner to make sure that this idea is adopted by the government. At that time it was president J.M.Kikwete was also in agreement with his ideas of Dual Citizenship being the birthright of the Diaspora who despite the obstacles have contributed so much for so many in Tanzania across all regions”

Katanga, a strong believer in  dual citizenship, says all his children (not mentioning number) went to the best Universities and now have good jobs in hands. Last born, Jessica Katanga  is a Doctor in Neuroscience.

That all his children would very much like to come in with their friends to participate in the national economy and development, even when they(parents) are gone.

“Having dual citizenship eases  to reach donors worldwide. When having a British Passport, no country can deny your entry, while possessing Tanzania Passport only, has a lot of restrictions and inconveniences”, said Katanga adding that they are continuing with negotiations with the government and legal means to see their dream becomes true.

By Mutayoba Arbogast




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