Dual Citizenship News

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Mutharika Pledges Dual Citizenship, Opposition Parties Back Up Calls


Mutharika Speaks to US Diaspora. Photo Credit: M.Miunthali
This week, Malawi's headlines have been addressing the issue of Dual Citizenship that was brought up to Mutharika at his meeting with the Malawian Diaspora. Below is a compilation of some of the articles that were published:

"Mutharika Thrills Malawians Living Abroad on Dual Citizenship Pledge" - Edwin Mandowa, Malawi Voice
"Addressing Malawians in Washington DC, President Peter Mutharika told the audience that government would look into the matter of dual nationality because many Malawians who have spent many years living abroad really want to have dual citizenship"

"Mutharika Promises Dual Citizenship: Addresses Malawians in the US." Nyasatimes Reporter, Nyasatimes
"President Peter Mutharika has assured Malawians in Diaspora that their request to be allowed to hold dual citizenship would be looked into so that the National Assembly  can debate and agree on such laws. The President was speaking on Thursday when he interacted with Malawians living in the United States of America in Washington DC, a day after the close of a historic US- Africa Leaders Summit."


"Parties Back Dual Citizenship Calls" Moses Chitsulo, BNLTimes
"Some opposition parties and commentators have said President Peter Mutharika’s promise that government will review the citizenship law to facilitate a move which will see the country allowing dual citizenship is a step in the right direction. Speaking when he interacted with Malawians living in the United States last week, Mutharika said government will look into their request for the country to allow dual citizenship."

"Malawi "Dual Citizenship" Debate Opening Up" Gabriel Kolomo, Zodiak Radio

"Malawi has decided to open up and allow for more discussion around the proposal for the country to allow dual citizenship with President Peter Mutharika saying his government will review the law on this. ..The Malawi Washington Association (MWA) told President Mutharika that their desire was to see Malawi’s commitment to the Diaspora “expressed through inclusive citizenship laws that recognize and secure our contributions, investments, property and Malawian identities”.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Dual Citizenship, Development and Diaspora: Remarks from Malawi Washington Association (MWA) to H.E. President Mutharika





H.E President Mutharika and First Lady, Madam Mutharika
Remarks from Malawi Washington Association (MWA) to H.E. President Mutharika, President of the Republic of Malawi on the occasion of A Meeting with Malawians Resident in the Washington Metro Area.  

Delivered by Sitinga Kachipande – President, Malawi Washington Association
Ritz-Carlton Hotel – Georgetown, Washington DC
August 7th, 2014.





Your Excellency, Professor Peter Mutharika, President of the Republic of Malawi, Your Excellency, Madame Gertrude Mutharika, First lady of the Republic of Malawi,
Honorable Joseph Mwanamveka M.P., Minister of Trade and Industry,
Honorable Atupele Muluzi, M.P., Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mines,
Ambassador Steve Matenje, Ambassador of the Republic of Malawi to the U.S. and distinguished guests,

It is a great honor to welcome you on behalf of the Malawi Washington Association and the Malawi community in the United States. Your Excellency, we are grateful that you were able to take time out of your busy schedule to meet with the Malawian community. Before I proceed, I would like to congratulate you on your election as President to the Republic of Malawi and to wish you success over the next few years. I would also like to congratulate all Malawians for reaching the landmark occasion of fifty years of independence this year. 

The number of Malawians living abroad has greatly increased since we first celebrated our independence in 1964. In the early years, Malawians would move abroad and then return home. In this new globalized world, fuelled by improvements in technology and mass transportation, Malawians are settling in greater numbers in countries much further away from Malawi and are making new homes abroad as global citizens. They make up what we now call the Malawian Diaspora.

Malawian Diaspora refers to the dispersal of Malawian peoples and their seeds who are scattered world-wide. We are comprised of men, women, children, Malawian and U.S. citizens and their spouses. The Diaspora here is spread across several locations but we are connected to each other and to Malawi by our common roots – “r-o-o-t-s”.

We are also connected because of our common routes – “r-o-u-t-e-s”. We have travelled the same path as Malawians before us and have a shared future with all Malawians. What happens in Malawi affects us here. Malawi’s influence on the Diaspora can be seen through the clothes we wear, the music we listen to and the food we eat. When there is famine, natural disaster or inflation, it affects us here too. When Malawi sneezes, the diaspora catches a cold…

Similarly, where the Diaspora goes, Malawi goes too. As unofficial representatives of our country the Diaspora helps to create important linkages between Malawi and the U.S.  We build networks for skills sharing, project financing and development projects – and we do it for free. I would like to take a moment to highlight that the Malawians in the U.S. also have a track record of producing Malawi’s prominent leaders. John Chilembwe, President Kamuzu Banda and Your Excellency, were all once members of the U.S. Diaspora who returned home to contribute to Malawi.

Perhaps, the Diaspora’s most profound impact on Malawi is in the form of the remittances which tally to an estimated $16 million dollars annually. The funds go towards helping siblings, relatives, and friends start or expand business, pay school tuition, build housing for family or business and to undertake various self-financed projects. The funds ensure household security, alleviate poverty, build infrastructure, and provide emergency relief.

As social networks, we have moved towards more collaborative efforts. We have been mobilizing in formal ways through Malawian associations such as Malawi Washington Association, Malawi Seattle Association, Malawians in Texas Organization and Malawians in the Tri-State Area. A number of Malawian led non-profits and businesses across different sectors have also emerged that aim at either charity, investment, or development. As an example, in the DC area, Malawi Washington Foundation educates Malawian girls and Aspire to Inspire provides vocational training for Malawian youth… and there are other organizations.

The organization that I represent, the Malawi Washington Association or MWA has been working with Malawi in various ways. MWA is a registered non-profit organization founded in 1994. It is the oldest and largest Malawian Diaspora association in the U.S. Over the past twenty years, it has helped to create networks, build partnerships and undertake development projects. To highlight some of our work, MWA raised thousands of dollars for hunger and flood relief. We have worked on smaller projects that have provided assistance to orphans, sent durable medical equipment, books and the like. Locally, we participate in charity walks and organize annual Independence Day celebrations. This year, we collaborated with Malawian organization n community leaders under the umbrella “Malawi Community USA” to organize Malawi’s Golden Jubilee celebrations which were well attended by Malawians across the U.S., friends of Malawi and SADC member embassy representatives. We were also supported by our official representatives here who recognized our efforts of keeping the Diaspora united and engaged with Malawi.

The Diaspora is committed to the growth and success of our nation. We would also like to see Malawi more committed to us. Your Excellency, we were encouraged by your Independence Day message to the Diaspora which acknowledged that we had a role to play in Malawi.   We welcome a chance to build stronger partnerships with Malawi and would like to come out of the shadows of Malawi’s development agenda. The majority of Malawians here are academics, small businesspersons, medical and other professionals or laborers who migrated for school or work. Together with other Africans, we make up the most educated immigrant group in the U.S. As an untapped resource, we are already engaged in Malawi, but we would like to be included as an integral part building of our nation in more formal ways. 

We welcome opportunities for skills sharing including Diaspora focused programs, internships, fellowships, or Diaspora advisors on boards. We would encourage the creation of an interactive Diaspora portal where policies and procedures back home can be shared with us as well as the active use of social media by government and business where we can get current information. Since we are far away from home, access to information helps us identify areas where we can have greater impact. We would like platforms where we not only receive information, but also where information about our skills, projects and ideas can be shared. Finally, a pressing issue for Diaspora Malawians is the desire to see Malawi’s commitment to the Diaspora expressed through inclusive citizenship laws that recognize and secure our contributions, investments, property and Malawian identities. Dual citizenship has been successfully used as a strategic tool for socio-economic development in India and South Africa and now, nearly half of all African countries. This is helping them engage those that migrated and their offspring and in turn, is facilitating development.

Your Excellency, in spite of our own engagement with our country, The Diaspora still has low and marginal visibility in Malawi. We welcome increased engagement and greater visibility. We encourage our press to recognize and report on our continued contributions so that Malawians back home can see us as partners in the development process.

Malawi is not just a vacation place we visit every 3 years nor a place we abandoned. Malawi, is a place that we here in the Diaspora, call home. We are engaged and committed to the development and prosperity of our nation.

Thank You.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Striking Citizenship: FIFA, Football and Malawi

English: Mkandaire leaving the pitch after vic...
Malawian born Mkandawire  leaving the pitch after victory for Millwall over Scunthorpe in the English league.  Mkandawire cannot play football for Malawi because Dual Citizenship is not recognized.(Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Many professional football (soccer) players today are citizens of more than one country.  Most professional clubs have at least one player or coach who holds multiple nationalities. This reflects the current world we live in where borders can be transcended and people are a hodge-podge of identities.  At FIFA World Cup 2010, we observed Ghanian born brothers compete at the international level on different teams. Jerome Baoteng played for Germany, whilst his brother Kevin-Prince Boateng played for Italy.  This is testament of how nationality laws affect football player’s career and  a country's chances of winning international competitions. Dual Citizenship can provide advantages for both Malawi and Malawian Footballers to allow them to become more competitive.

Having Dual Citizenship has historically helped African players in their football careers. It gives them career options. At the domestic level, players often become naturalized citizens in foreign countries in order to play for a league.  Once these players become naturalized citizens, they can no longer play for Malawi because Malawi doesn’t recognize Dual Citizenship. They no longer have a choice regarding whom to play for. Under current Malawi law, they automatically lose their citizenship. The foreign clubs encourage naturalization because they benefit from having naturalized players. As an example, African football players can join an EU team without their presence counting against their domestic league’s quota of foreigners. They also get to retain our most talented players for their domestic leagues.

At the international level, players also become naturalized to benefit of their careers and their new country. Since Malawi does not recognize Dual Citizenship, this means that Malawians naturalized abroad, cannot represent Malawi at senior level non-friendlies. This is a disadvantage to Malawi. Such laws automatically disqualified Malawian-born players such as Tamika Mkandawire (an English league Midfielder) from representing Malawi during any stage of his career. If Dual Citizenship was an option for him and many other Malawians, he would be free to make that decision for themselves per FIFA guidelines. According to FIFA, dual nationality players may only represent one country if they are playing at the senior competitive level. This means players with Dual Nationality have the option of choosing who they will represent with as professional player. Players as senior level can play friendlies for any country. However, the rules are stricter at the senior level.

In accordance with current global citizenship trends FIFA should consider redressing these regulations so that they are similar to the rules for the junior level players. At the junior level, players with dual nationality are now allowed to switch who they represent. They have to submit an application to FIFA in order to change who they play for. Prior to 2004, FIFA rules forbade this even if the player had played international football only at junior level. Recently, we have seen Ricardo Nunes who was born in South Africa and raised in Portugal, exercise this right. He is a former Portuguese under-17 but has also played for Bafana Bafana. Midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong submitted an application in order to play for Ghana at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations. He is a British citizen but has a strong emotional connection to Ghana. Players like Frimpong are an example of Africans in the Diaspora that have a sense of dual identity and dual loyalty. He is proudly British, but also proudly Ghanaian.

In the new global world we are seeing more African players move of in both directions – movement is both to and from of the continent. In the past, we saw greater movement from people moving out of the continent and in to non-African leagues. France was an epitome of a country that benefited from Dual Citizenship. Many of the players in their national team were (and still are) famously African born. France is now seeing a new trend where African players with Dual Citizenship at the youth level are being trained in France, but are opting to play for the country of their parents (or their own) birth. This includes junior league players such as Arouane Chamakh, Sébastien Bassong, Younès Belhanda, Benoît and Assou-Ekotto. Players that are naturalized outside of Africa or have African born parents are also making different choices about who they want to play for. Their rationale is in part due to their sense of belonging to Africa, and in part, as a career decision.

Dual Citizenship for football players is also about giving people options that are mutually beneficial. It would give the players more exposure or a sense of national pride. For countries which have limited resources like Malawi, It would mean foreign trained players will be given an option to play for Malawi without Malawi struggling to find resources. The success of Malawian citizen players would also bring recognition and money in to Malawian football through sponsorship and prize money. Although some people express concern that Dual Citizenship would come at the expense of the local team, this is largely speculation. Granting Dual Citizenship does not always mean that there will be an automatic influx of Dual Citizens dominating the local leagues in African nations. As an example South African born Andrew Surman, an English Norwich City under-21, indicated that he was not interested in playing for South Africa even though he is a dual national because of various considerations. Footballers often have many other decisions to weigh in before deciding to uproot their lives to play and live abroad. Former Malawian captain John Maduka considered his family before obtaining South African citizenship. He wanted his children to continue school and run personal businesses. He played professional football for a South African premier league team Umtata Bush Bucks before applying for citizenship there. Although he considered it necessary to obtain South African citizenship for practical reasons, he still wanted to retain ties with Malawi. He was confined by citizenship laws and had to navigate football regulations.

FIFA regulations for the junior team changed a few years ago to reflect the current trends. There are renewed calls for FIFA to have these rules apply to the senior level players as well. There is a chance that FIFA will revisit these regulations in the near future since the world continues to become more global. Malawi should be able to revisit its laws so that they reflect the current times as well. We need to be able to adapt to the realities in a new world of complex multiple identities and multiple nationalities.  Dual Citizenship will give our football players and Malawi an added advantage. Malawi’s laws should provide advantage so that we can remain competitive.

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