Malawi opens dual citizenship debate, JB speaks at Chatham House

Malawi government has opened the debate and consultations on the possibility for the country to allow dual citizenship, President Joyce Banda  said on Thursday in London.

The President tackled the issue when she was answering questions after her address to Chatham House, an independent international affairs think-tank based in London.

Banda addressed the gathering which included Malawians in Diaspora on a speech which was titled ‘Malawi’s Policy and Priorities for a Globalised World.’

Chimwemwe Nuka, one of the campaigners for dual nationality, asked President Banda on whether government is taking aboard the wishes of Malawians in Diaspora on changing the law to allow dual citizenship.

President Banda and Shyley Kondowe addressing Malawians in London

President Banda noted that the movement towards embracing dual citizenship is slowly gaining momentum , saying accepting dual citizenship may be considered to be in the national interest, as it will facilitate flow of investment, transfer of technology and infusion of democratic values.

She however said government will “consult widely” on the subject.

Banda- the first Malawian leader to address at the Chatham House – was flanked by presidential advisor on policy and strategy, Shyley Kondowe and Foreign Affairs Minister Ephraim Mganda Chiume.

The Minister said government will allow a healthy debate on dual citizenship when the subject was raised again at a meeting President Banda addressed Malawians in UK later during the day.

Chatham address

The Malawi President in her address to the London think-tank, said her government seeks to “unlock the potential of the Malawian people to regain their freedom, dignity and sense of pride and thereby give Malawi the opportunity to realise their social, political and economic freedoms.”

Banda  also said her administration also wants to drive a people’s development agenda that enhances opportunities,  reduces inequalities and eradicates poverty through economic growth and wealth creation.

“We will realise this vision by exemplifying the values of integrity, honesty, tolerance, selflessness and stewardship within the leadership and the public at large whilst embracing three cornerstones of Unity, Equity and Development,” President Banda said.

She said  the main policy thrust of her  Government is to eradicate poverty of Malawians through economic growth and wealth creation.

“This will be achieved by transforming the structure of the economy to accelerate job creation and economic empowerment of the vulnerable citizens within a centralised and democratic environment,” she said.

Democratic governance

President Banda told the gathering that  Malawi ‘s  “strong commitment” to constitutionalism continues to provide the basic framework for the growth of democracy.

She said her government is  committed to upholding human rights, the rule of law and good governance.

The second female President in Africa, Banda said  the continent  needs strong political leadership based on the spirit of  Umunthu that will deliberately promote a highly skilled public service that is backed up by effective systems which will be able to provide steady national and regional direction for sustained development.

“The political leadership should work  to promote corporate governance and create conditions conducive for investment and trade,” she said.

Banda said issues of corruption, rule of law and observance of both  political and economic governance are critical to promoting private investment and the growth of an effective and  vibrant private sector.

She said the African leaders should aim at establishing open, competitive and  dynamic economic structures that will mobilize individual initiative and dynamic private enterprise.

Aid for trade

President Banda said Malawi gives importance to sustained and  predictable aid for trade.

“ I believe that trade is the only way of  creating wealth other than relying on aid,” she said.

“ Aid for trade, therefore, would assist our country in addressing the supply-side constraints  so as to become more competitive and take advantage of market  access opportunities in open regional and global markets.”

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