August 4th, 2016
As organizations in the Diaspora representing Malawians and friends of Malawi, we have long requested our government to enact more comprehensive, inclusive and forward-looking dual citizenship laws over the past few years. Malawian organizations in the United States are therefore speaking with one voice in support of the announcement to draft new dual citizenship legislation in Parliament by His Excellency, President Peter Mutharika.
Pursuant to the Malawi Citizenship and Immigration act of 1966, the Malawian constitution does not presently accommodate for Malawian citizens and foreign nationals of Malawian descent over 21 years of age to hold dual citizenship. Therefore, the current legislation change is not only welcome news, but a step in the right direction by the Mutharika administration on behalf of Malawians everywhere. We believe dual citizenship would be a tremendous benefit to the government and to all people of Malawian origin. We believe such a system would provide the following advantages:
➢ It will encourage economic investments in Malawi from Malawians abroad.
➢ It will allow an estimated $40M USD in remittances or money that the Diaspora sends annually to transfer through the formal sector, thus increasing foreign currency flow and development projects they contribute towards.
➢ It will encourage capital investments into creation of businesses that generate jobs, goods and services, thereby facilitating increasing trade between the host countries which is important in a new globalized environment.
➢ It will provide a platform to mitigate the effects of the brain drain because those that leave seeking education will be more likely to return due to legally being allowed to seek employment.
➢ It will support Malawians that have an understanding of the culture and are returning home since they are in a unique position to exchange ideas, knowledge, expertise and training that is suitable for Malawi.
➢ It will help Malawians keep a sense of personal identity and national pride.
➢ It will promote a culture inclusive of all Malawians, thereby redefining divisions created by colonial borders.
➢ It will prevent future generations of Malawians from assimilating their host countries to the point of losing ties or linkages to Malawi.
Malawian organizations in the United States believe that dual citizenship is a right for all people of Malawian descent. As organizations, we will work tirelessly to support initiatives that will have the greatest impact to the nation and the Diaspora. We will continue advocating both the Embassy in the United States and the Malawi government to implement dual citizenship which advances Malawi’s socio-economic prosperity.
We hope to do our part to contribute to a better, stronger, unified Malawi and think a commitment to inclusive dual citizenship laws will facilitate this in several ways. Our website, www.dualcitizenshipmalawi.org provides more information about the debate surrounding dual citizenship and its benefits. We hope that we can count on the support of our Malawian brothers and sisters in the movement towards this realization.
Agnes Nkhata Sitinga Kachipande
Chairwoman, Malawians in Texas Organization (MITO) President, Malawi Washington Association (MWA)