Initiative launched to help th

Initiative launched to help those who have lost their SA citizenship

An initiative aimed at facilitating the retention and resumption of South African citizenship for dual citizens is gaining ground and hopes to present its case before the Constitutional Court

Initiative launched to help th

The automatic loss of South African citizenship when acquiring other nationalities has long been viewed as a constitutionally questionable act, and could soon be put to the test at the Constitutional Court if a newly launched campaign manages to attract a strong enough following.

SADualCitizenship/REenfranchise aims to create a network across the South African diaspora worldwide, which could help to mobilise necessary changes in current citizenship law in order to facilitate the retention and resumption of SA citizenship when acquiring other nationalities.

The campaign reports that it needs to create a strong following not just morally but also to generate the necessary funds to take their petition through the High Court and on to the Constitutional Court.

Many South Africans have lost their citizenship in the past by failing to apply for a retention letter before obtaining a second nationality such as British citizenship.

Former citizens can only apply for “Resumption of Citizenship” if they are physically present in South Africa permanently, as the submission of an application to resume South African citizenship would need to be made at a local Home Affairs branch. The process is reported to take at least two years, but has been known to take longer in some cases.

Naturalised South Africans basically have to go through all the additional motions of having to apply for permanent residence before they can reacquire citizenship; this would be assessed on the mere merits of the application along with all other applications for South African citizenship, and a past history as a South African national may not be taken into consideration.

In addition to these hurdles, another citizenship challenge brought on by the Department of Home Affairs is posed in cases where the assumption of South African citizenship for citizens by birth is not automatic for future children of those who lost their SA citizenship in the course of gaining another nationality.

Children born to South African parents abroad can be registered as “Citizens by Birth” as long as a parent is a current South African citizen. But if the parent has lost his or her SA citizenship on account of assuming another citizenship (without applying for a retention letter beforehand), any future children would also automatically lose their right to citizenship by birth.

In other words, children they may have cannot become South African citizens on grounds of their parentage.

Hoping to fight these challenges, SADualCitizenship/REenfranchise says it is trying to gather at least 1,000 supporters before launching a feasibility assessment with its legal counsel, Chris Watters, before bringing the matter to the courts.

Waters describes the current state of South African dual citizenship law on his blog:

“Many countries in the world allow dual nationality – roughly, about as many permit dual citizenship as prohibit it. The standard challenge to allowing dual nationality tends to be the rather narrow insistence on demanding total allegiance to the flag, as it were, or asking how one can love two countries at the same time – which always seems to hint at an inferiority complex.

“The fact is that in South Africa multiple citizenship is permitted – albeit under licence. The requirements to get that consent from Home Affairs are not stringent. And this country has not come to a crashing halt as a result of South Africans having dual nationality – and some of those South Africans include some people who were in exile.”

Various fundraising platforms including an Indiegogo campaign will be part of this initiative to make dual citizenship for South Africans a straight-forward procedure. The campaign reports that it has already grown in numbers at a considerable pace thus far.

To find out more about the SADualCitizenship/REenfranchise campaign and to get involved, please visit their Facebook group at