“The department has, for some time, been reviewing legislation that governs its work. I am therefore very pleased that these two Bills have been adopted by the National Assembly, which will go a long way towards giving expression to the commitment given to the nation by government to ensure a better life for all who live in South Africa,” said the minister.
Commenting on the Births and Deaths Registration Amendment Bill, she said current social conditions necessitated a review of the provisions in the current Birth and Deaths Registration Act. This was so as to ensure that the process is as humane, secure and dignified as possible.
The Bill, said Dlamini Zuma, seeks to streamline procedures of the registration of orphans and abandoned children; who other than parents should register the birth of a child, including the next of kin or a legal guardian; registration of birth after 30 days; and the registration of adopted children to ensure alignment to the Children’s Act 2005.
The Bill also states the procedures for people who choose to change their gender while also providing stiffer penalties for those found to be involved in fraudulent birth and death registrations.
In reviewing the current legislation, the department found that certain aspects of the South African Citizenship Act need to be aligned to the provisions of the Bill of Rights as is enshrined in the Constitution.
“The South African Citizenship Amendment Bill will among others ensure that a child born to a South African parent inside or outside the country is a South African by birth as long as the child is registered according to South African law; and that a child born of non-South African parents but adopted by South African parents is a citizen by descent,” said the minister.
She explained another important amendment - the requirement that foreign nationals who have acquired the status of permanent residents and who wish to obtain a Certificate of Naturalization must have been resident in the country for five instead of the current four years.
In terms of dual citizenship, the Amendment Bill seeks to ensure that in the case of foreign nationals who want to acquire South African citizenship, and yet his or her country of origin does not permit dual citizenship, such a person would have to renounce their original citizenship before the South African citizenship can be conferred upon.
It also provides for the withdrawal of naturalized citizenship in the case of the holder participating in wars, under another country’s flag, while such an act conflicts with South Africa’s the stated policy. It also provides for stiffer penalties for those implicated in the fraudulent acquisition of South African citizenship and identity theft.
“The adoption of these Bills will also ensure we guard and protect our citizenship as well as honour the processes involved with the registration of birth and deaths. This will serve to build in our nation a spirit of respect for our nationality, a spirit which will also ensure we do not engage in criminal or illicit activities related to, amongst others, identity fraud,” she said. - BuaNews