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Kenyan men married to foreigners accuse State of denying wives citizenship

By Renson Mnyamwezi | May 10th 2016

Several Tanzanian and Ugandan women married in the county have been denied citizenship and national identity cards due to lack of registration certificates, their husbands have claimed.

Those interviewed complained of frustration from the Government to have their wives registered as Kenyan citizens.

Several Tanzanian women are married in the county owing the county owing to its proximity to Tanzania.

Many claimed the East African Community integration process had not addressed the problem.

One of the affected men, Joseph Mwandoto, said his wife of over 20 years, who hails from Tanzania, was yet to acquire a national identity card due to  Government bureaucracy.

"We only have a marriage certificate," he disclosed.

Jacob Onyango from Taveta sub-county complained of having faced similar frustrations.

"My wife is from Tanzania and the Government has denied her an ID. I do not know who to turn to now," he told Taveta Deputy County Commissioner Henry Wafula at a public baraza at Challa trading centre yesterday.

Mr Onyango appealed to the Government to facilitate the issuance of IDs to foreign women married in the county.

Mathew Njoroge, however, said he does not think the process of acquiring IDs for foreign women married in the country was difficult.

"Although I am yet to acquire an ID for my Tanzanian wife, I do not think that the process is difficult once one follows the law," he said.

Provincial and Registration of Persons officials said the women must get registration certificates first before qualifying for citizenship.

"We've turned away several foreign women from various countries married in the region due to lack of registration certificates," said County Registrar Jacob Mwakaba.

He said the law states that a person who has been married to a citizen for a period of at least seven years is entitled on application to be registered as a citizen.

Chapter Three on citizenship in the Constitution says that Parliament shall enact legislation establishing conditions on which citizenship may be granted to individuals who are citizens of other countries.

Speaking to The Standard in his office yesterday, Mr Mwakaba said the foreign women must get dependent pass from the Immigration department to enable them apply for citizenship.

Meanwhile, a bill to harmonise all gender issues in the EAC is before the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) for debate.

The EAC Gender Bill, 2016, sponsored by Eala member Nancy Abisai, if passed, will help address gender disparities among EAC member states.

In an interview with The Standard, Ms Abisai noted that the bill will provide for uniform gender issues in the EAC members states.

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