Stateless Shona people get citizenship

By , People Daily Digital
Thursday, July 29th, 2021 00:00 | 2 mins read
Margaret Ncube; a member of the Shona community, receives her Kenyan ID card from Interior CS Fred Matiang’i yesterday at Windsor Hotel in Kiambu County. Looking on is Governor James Nyoro. Photo/PD/John ochieng

All stateless people residing in Kenya who qualify to become citizens will be granted citizenship by December, as part of the government’s efforts to remove barriers to social integration.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i made the announcement yesterday when he  accorded citizenship to members of the Shona community.

Originally from Zimbabwe and Zambia, the Shona have been living in the country as  stateless people.

Following the move, the Shona have now officially become Kenyans and will enjoy all services and benefits that come with it, including owning land.

Access services

He also gave a number of Indians and a Ghanian citizenship certificates ahead of their being issued with national Identity (ID) cards. 

Matiang’i said issuing of IDs to the former stateless people would enable them  to access various government services such as education and health.

“It is important at this point to remind all of us that possession of an ID card entitles one to access education, healthcare, employment, property ownership, access to financial services and indeed gives one the right to vote,” the CS said.

In addition, he said, the document will facilitate their registration to the Huduma Namba platform during the forthcoming second mass registration.

Presiding over the issuing of IDs, Matiang’i said the government was keen to ensure that only “clean” aliens are allowed to settle in the country. 

He said that the government is committed to ensure that the country remains safe and secure, by weeding out disgruntled elements who attempt to acquire citizenship fraudulently.

“I have to be honest with you. I have the responsibility as a public official to make sure that not every Tom, Dick and Harry gets citizenship,” he said.

He added: “Some of them don’t have good intentions. Recently I deported some who had attempted to get our documents fraudulently. Some of them find ways of mingling with criminals in our midst.”

More than 1,000 members of the Shona community travelled from far and wide and flocked the Windsor Golf Club where they acquired the vital document. 

Kinoo MCA Kimani Wanjiku who has championed the process of legalising their stay in Kenya said the process of ID issuance would be continuous, adding that “no African should be stateless”.

“There are close to 4,500 people from the Shona community, with about 3,500 living in various parts of Kiambu County, particularly in Kinoo and Muguga.

They have opted to register in Kiambu because most of them live here and are easily recognised by locals and the administration,” he said.

The Shona community migrated to Kenya from Zimbabwe and Zambia in the 1960s as missionaries and founded the Gospel of God Church.

They have waited for long to be recognised as Kenyans with successive governments promising to help them acquire citizenship to no avail.

The Shona community is spread across Kinoo, Muguga, Gitaru and Githurai wards in Kiambu County as well as parts of Nairobi and Mombasa.

The MCA thanked Presient Uhuru Kenyatta for allowing the issuing of IDs to the community.

“I am happy that the process which I started in 2016 has borne fruit and the registration of the stateless community as citizens of Kenya is now a reality,” he said.

The Kenya Human Rights Commission Executive Director Davis Malombe who was present at the event said that the community would now start enjoying their human rights.

“Owning an ID is the beginning of enjoying human rights and, therefore, the Shona community have started their journey just like any other Kenyan,” Malombe said.

Also present during the function were Kiambu Governor James Nyoro and County Commissioner Wilson Wanyanga.

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