|Tea plantation in Malawi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Land ownership laws in Malawi protect the right of Malawians to own free hold land (land that you completely own independent of the government). Non-Malawian citizens however are not allowed to own land. The exception is for land that was already foreign owned prior to the Land Act. This land can be passed on to foreign landowners and mainly affects the plantations/estates in Malawi that are largely foreign owned. Foreigners in general are only allowed to lease land from the government under a 99-year lease (where land is owned by the government). The implications for citizenship in land ownership laws is profound because it affects a Malawian individuals right to inherit ancestral or family property. It prevents a Malawian individual that already owns land from passing land they own to their foreign born offspring. It also prevents Malawians from passing this land to their children that have taken up citizenship abroad in order to provide for the family. Citizenship is important because it provides Malawian landowners or potential land owners with greater protection for their land under the law. It provides greater security that their land investments (for business or private use), are secure and are not an investment risk. It is important that citizenship laws are addressed so that land issues do not result in lengthy and costly court battles. Having the ability to buy land or keep ancestral land is therefore key to advancing the Dual Citizenship debate for Malawians abroad.
Author: Sitinga Kachipande
Related Pages: Impact of Dual Citizenship Laws
Malawian Land Policy Act