Malawi: Citizenship Act to Conform to Democratic Principles, Other Laws

Lilongwe — The review of the Malawi Citizenship Act is set to address gaps that exist between the citizenship law and the Republic of Malawi Constitution to bring the Act in tandem with the country's supreme law.

Chairperson of the Special Law Commission on the Review of the Malawi Citizenship Act, Justice Rezine Mzikamanda made the remarks in Lilongwe on Wednesday at the Regional Consultative Workshop on the Act's review.

The current Malawi citizenship is regulated by an old Act which was enacted in 1966.

Mzikamanda said from 1966 to date there have been changes in laws and social environment hence the review.

"The 1966 Act did not have a strong foundation in human rights while the 1994 Act is strongly founded on protection and promotion of human rights and democratic governance.

"The Act is outdated and not in tandem with the present democratic principles and international standards," he said.

He added that some instruments that Malawi ratified have a bearing on citizenship and as such they have to be in tandem with such instruments and laws.

"Now that an approved law on Dual Citizenship Act in this country is operational, we need to bring it in tandem with the rest of the Citizenship Act itself," Mzikamanda said.

He said the Dual Citizenship Act has brought with it economic benefits in the sense that it makes it free for those who want dual citizenship to be able to invest in this country freely.

They can invest in the country without worrying about how their resources are going to be moved around because the law is providing for that as well, Mzikamanda said.

Malawi Law Commission Chief Law Reform Officer William Yakuwawa Msiska said the consultative meeting gives an opportunity to engage different stakeholders and allow them suggest issues to be considered for the review of the Act.

The consultative meetings to be held in four parts are one way of providing civic education to people who want to become citizens of Malawi on what needs to be done to attain that citizenship.

They are also aimed at seeking views that would enrich the review process of the Act.

Among the issues discussed included acquisition of Malawi citizenship, forms of citizenship, naturalization of refugees, acquisition and loss of citizenship through marriage and issuance of passports.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Malawi Government have provided financial assistance for the process.

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