Finally, the long wait for diaspora Malawians to hold two nationalities is now over – done and dusted – as the Malawi government has gazetted the long-awaited dual citizenship law, which accommodates Malawians in the diaspora, who might wish to hold on to their Malawian passport and that of the foreign country in which they are staying.
The dual citizenship issue was one of the contentious and hot-potato subject-matter during the 2019 and 2020 elections campaign with both President Lazarus Chakwera and his vice, Saulos Chilima, then in opposition promised to pass into law if voted into power.
However, former President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika hastily brought the Dual Citizenship Bill to Parliament where it passed and he assented to in March 2019 but failed to operationalise it.
Homeland Security minister, Richard Chimwendo Banda in a Government Notice Number 59 of the Malawi Citizenship ACT, dual Citizenship regulations 2021 announced that dual citizenship is now gazetted into law.
“In exercise of the powers conferred by section 34 of the Malawi Citizenship Act, I, Richard Chimwendo Banda, Minister of Homeland Security, make the following Regulations.
“These regulations may be cited as the Malawi Citizenship (Dual Citation Citizenship) Regulations, 2021,” reads in part the statement.
The law on dual citizenship stipulates that, a notification by a citizen of Malawi who holds the citizenship Notification of any other country in addition to the citizenship of Malawi under section 6 and register (3) of the Act, shall be accompanied by an application for registration as a dual citizen.
Furthermore, the law also states that a notification and application for registration under sub-regulation (1) 2019 shall be in Form AA, set out in the First Schedule.
“The Minister shall, upon registering the applicant, issue the with applicant a dual citizenship registration certificate in Form AB, set out in the First Schedule,” further reads the notice.
The dual citizenship law empowers the responsible Minister upon registering the applicant, to issue the with applicant a dual citizenship registration certificate in Form AB, as set out in the First Schedule.
“An application for restoration of Malawi citizenship under Restoration of Citizenship of section 6 (5) of the Act shall need to be be accompanied by a certified copy of the applicant’s valid or expired Malawi passport; a certified copy of a passport of any one of the parents of the applicant, where the applicant was included and a certified copy of a birth certificate of the applicant.
:Also, the applicant can submit any other document that may prove the Malawi citizenship of the applicant or the Malawi citizenship of any one of the applicant, or parents,” read the notice.
Nationality in Malawi is determined by the 1966 Citizenship Act, as amended most recently in 2019 to permit dual citizenship for the first time.
The 1994 Constitution provides for child to have the right to nationality, and that a person shall not be arbitrarily deprived or denied a citizenship.
On December 12, 2018, Malawi’s 193-member unicameral National Assembly passed the Malawi Citizenship Amendment Bill to amend the 1966 Citizenship Act (hereinafter “the Principal Act.”
The law allows certain citizens to maintain dual citizenship in limited instances as the Act states that “no citizen of Malawi, being a person of full age and capacity, shall be entitled to be also a citizen of any other country as stipulated in the Citizen Act 28 of July 6,1966.
It also permits children to hold citizenship of another country in addition to their Malawi citizenship until they reach the age of twenty-one.
However, persons in this category lose their Malawi citizenship one year after their twenty-first birthday unless they renounce the foreign citizenship and declare, using the appropriate form, their intention to retain Malawi citizenship.
Before the new dual citizenship law, a female citizen, who acquires the citizenship of a foreign country through marriage loses her Malawi citizenship unless she renounces her foreign citizenship and declares in writing her intention to keep her Malawi citizenship.
In addition to the above-described scenarios, persons who acquire the citizenship of another country by operation of law lose their Malawi citizenship one year from the day of acquiring the foreign citizenship unless, using the prescribed form, they renounce the foreign citizenship and declare their intention to retain their Malawi citizenship.
If the persons in this particular scenario are children, the loss of citizenship would occur on their twenty-second birthday.
In 2015, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) rebuked Malawi for having a citizenship law that discriminated against women, stating, the Citizenship Act of 1966 was discriminating against women in respect of their ability to retain their nationality and their ability to confer nationality to a foreign spouse.
Under Article 9(1) of the [CEDAW] Convention, Malawi is required to ensure that women enjoy equal rights with men to acquire, change and retain their nationality and that this Article also creates an obligation to ensure that equality between men and women in the ability to confer nationality to spouses.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :