Citizen Cane (& Coke)

Citizenship issues seem to be in the news lately. Here’s a column I wrote in 2010. Not much has changed.

 

IF the ANC gets its way, which generally happens in this benevolent dictatorship of ours, people who want to become South African citizens will have to renounce citizenship of their countries of origin.

In a sentence that belongs in calipers, Home Affairs Minister Noksazana Dlamini-Zuma said: “A people that does not value its citizenship is not worthy of being characterised as a nation and will not be taken seriously by other nations.”

This is a pack of jingoistic lies and the minister should be arrested at once. With the exception of money, geographical entitlement is the single biggest cause of conflict in the world. What else are the Israelis and Palestinians fighting about if not ownership of territory?

What our government should be doing is scrapping citizenship laws, not reinforcing them with misplaced notions of superpatriotism. We should throw open our borders and issue everyone with passports declaring the bearer to be a Citizen of the World. If, as the minister fears, other nations don’t take us seriously, then we resurrect our nuclear weapons programme and build bigger and more powerful bombs than the world has ever seen. That should stop the sniggering.

An ANC MP said the legislation, which essentially forces people to choose between deportation and pledging their undying allegiance to South Africa, would also prevent naturalised South Africans from participating in “wars which the government did not support”. How quaint to have, in this era of death and destruction, a lawmaker who proudly admits we are a country that supports war. Not all of them, though. Just the sexy ones.

How about a law that outlaws wars altogether? A law that converts the defence force into a peace force. A law that says war is an aberration and makes it illegal for any South African citizen to ever participate in one.

Nkosazana-Zuma says citizenship is one of the key elements in our precious national heritage. So is good governance. Once nationalisation has crippled our mines and the media is muzzled, our jails are full and the coffers are empty, at least we will be able to hold up our little green book and say: “I am South African! Hear me roar!”

As it turned out, not much could be done with the Citizenship Amendment Bill because parliament lacked a quorum. This means a fair number of MPs were too sick, drunk or lazy to come to work. But at least they don’t have dual citizenship. And once these fiercely proud South Africans return from recess, “it will be one of the bills put up for adoption”. Much like an unwanted child.

 

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