In a foreseeable volte-face announced on Monday, the government has yielded to growing pressure for a final resolution to the citizenship saga. Through resolutions to be made in the House and the Senate, parliamentarians will be required to disclose their place of birth as well as their parents’, along with any relevant documentation evidencing renunciation of any foreign citizenship. The resolutions would require such declarations to be made within 21 days in the case of sitting parliamentarians, and would be similar in substance to the existing mechanism for the declaration of interests.

It is plain that decisive action is needed to give this now long-running saga its quietus. A failure to take positive action may well see the indefinite continuation of the current trend, in which new cases involving the possible contravention of section 44 of the Constitution arise almost on a weekly basis. Yet the response favoured by the government is seriously flawed in three respects, each of which undermines its capacity to provide the final resolution which is sought after.