eSwatini, formerly known as Swaziland, has tabled a bill before its parliament to impose taxes on foreigners who want to marry women in the Kingdom.
The bill proposes that the couple must pay a sum of 30,000 lilangeni ($2,200) to the Ministry of the Interior so as to “protect Swazi women”.
Government spokesman Percy Simelane explained to the media that the law was drafted to protect the women from foreigners who want to obtain the eSwatini by taking advantage of them.
“This law aims to protect Swazi women from any manipulation or abuse by their foreign partners, who marry them for the sole purpose of obtaining our nationality,” he was quoted by Reuters.
He adds that the government wants to crack down on fake marriages as thousands of foreigners, especially Asians, apply yearly for citizenship for business purposes.
“This legislation alone will certainly not solve the problem, but it is our way of trying to protect our vulnerable women,” Simelane said, adding that their women are regularly abused and then abandoned with their children by their foreign husbands.
However, some women including rights activists have condemned the law saying it infringes on women’s freedom of choice.
“Countries have other means to protect their citizenship, including by controlling how they acquire their nationality,” says the head of NGO, Women and the Law in Swaziland, Dumsane Dlamini.
“All I know is that Swazi women prefer foreign men because they have more tenderness and love than our compatriots,” says Swazi feminist Bonsile Mamba who adds that the law violates the constitution.
The small kingdom of eSwatini has a population of 1.3 million inhabitants and according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), foreigners represented 2.5% of the population in 2015.