• September 30th, 2020

Opinion: Denied citizenship, living in destitution

Earlier this week I visited relatives in Ohangwena region, and the following demise was narrated to me. An elderly past her 70s, and his 50-something son live a pauper life, close to nothing at all, just because they do not hold any Namibian national documents. Their demise started long ago in the 70s, when the mother and the only son left for Angola, as everyone else was leaving for exile. In Angola she would become an unrecognised refugee. 

At some point, her narration made reference to how she become an aid to hungry SWAPO freedom fighters, the likes of the late Hidipo Hamutenya and so on, with whom she ascended from the same village in Namibia. At independence, she could not return with other refugees who fled Namibia at the time, thus she stayed behind in Angola. 

Her health deteriorated as she aged, and she started thinking of coming back home to Namibia. In 2016 after making contact with her nephew who is a cross-border truck driver, she got in contact with her surviving two sisters and two brothers back in Namibia, and she arranged to visit Namibia. Upon her return, she could not secure all necessary documentation to apply for a formal citizenship application back in Namibia.

This happened as so many of our people are still illiterate, have low understanding of laws and policies governing us, thus have no knowledge of what documents to acquire before they could return. 
Despite now living with her surviving sister, who is unemployed and dependent as well, life has not been easy for her. She could not register for old-age pension, nor could she seek employment either. 

However, on the flip side, she was approached by community members that she shall register for election, with the aid of witnesses, for her to vote in this year’s November election. I advised her not to as the ministry of home Affairs refused her citizenship, despite sworn statements from her mother’s two surviving sisters, four of her siblings, the headmen and villagers who knew her from birth. Her bad health is not good for her return to Angola to seek the required documents as she is on medication. I was told she had visited Eenhana office more than five times, her fingerprints were taken, and returned positive that she is fit to be granted citizenship, but alas.

It baffles me to say why with all this evidence, sworn statements, would one refuse someone a basic document that would make one live happily. Chapter 2, Article 4 (1)(a) of the Namibian Constitution says “one is a Namibian citizen if they were born in Namibia before the date of Independence whose fathers or mothers would have been Namibian citizens at the time of the birth of such persons, if this Constitution had been in force at that time.” 

This oldie and her son were both born in Namibia; the parents lived in Namibia, her father passed away before independence, and her mother passed in 1991. All her siblings thus possess Namibian citizenship, so is her two surviving aunts (sisters to her mother). I understand there are various cases that Angolan citizens have acquired citizenship under false pretence at Eenhana before, thus the official reluctance to grant citizenship to this woman and her son. Yet for whatever reasons given I feel she is being deprived her freedom, citizenship and her life is being made hell in this situation. Her health being frail is also another reason to feel for her. 

I thus wish to call on the ministry of home affairs to look into this situation and help these individuals and many others who have similar cases. I also wish to call upon Governor Uusko Nghaamwa to address the plight of his people in a similar position. I can provide further details in this regard and can be reached at 0814395336.

*  Salomo Ndeyamunye yaNdeshimona
Educator in Oshikoto Region
P. O. Box 30030, Onankali, Cell: 0812998663/0814395336
Email: ndeshimonasn@hotmail.com

Staff Reporter
2019-11-22 08:14:12 | 10 months ago

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