SIXTEEN immigrants from around the world yesterday took the oath of allegiance to become Lesotho citizens at the Ministry of Home Affairs offices in Maseru.
Addressing the new citizens, who consisted of three children and 13 adults from Ghana, Ivory Coast, Palestine, Bangladesh, India, Kenya, Nigeria and the People’s Republic of China, Home Affairs Minister Lekhetho Rakuoane said they should abide by the country’s legal requirements to become bona fide residents.
Advocate Rakuoane said citizenship did not exempt the immigrants from paying their obligations to the taxman.
“Be advised that as citizens of this country, you will be required by law to faithfully pay your taxes,” he said.
“As the Home Affairs minister, I will not tolerate tax income evasion, I will not allow you to stay in this country if you fail to pay income tax and underestimate its importance.”
The minister said paying income tax should be a moral obligation for every Mosotho working and earning a salary, adding that his main area of interest was not companies but individuals.
“I don’t expect you to hide behind companies. Just pay what is due to the state,” he said.
Advocate Rakuoane urged the new citizens to share their skills with Basotho and attract investors from their native countries to help develop the country.
The minister also said they would soon be issued with naturalization certificates.
“There is still a problem with the issuance of naturalization certificates, but I have urged the relevant officials to sort this problem out and end the perception that people must pay bribes to get naturalisation certificates,” Advocate Rakuoane added.
One of the new citizens, Mobashahr Hassan (46) who is originally from Bangladesh, told the Lesotho Times on the sidelines of the ceremony that he came to Lesotho in December 2004 “looking for a peaceful country”.
“I am originally from Bangladesh and came to Lesotho looking for a peaceful country. Lesotho is now my home, and this is a happy day for me since my wife and three children also became Lesotho citizens,” Dr Hassan said.
“Since my arrival in this country, I have been playing my part in assisting the less fortunate by using my expertise as a medical doctor to treat people with various ailments in the rural areas during my free time.”