Malawi has decided to open up and allow for more discussion around the proposal for the country to allow dual citizenship with President Peter Mutharika saying his government will review the law on this.

Mutharika said this when he addressed Malawians living in the United States of America recently when he was attending the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit in Washington DC. He has since returned to Malawi.

The president’s position appears generally welcomed by most political parties represented in Malawi Parliament among them the Peoples Party (PP), United Democratic Front (UDF) and some civil society organizations. However, differences arise as to what freedoms dual citizenship holders would enjoy.

UDF publicist Ken Ndanga says the time has now come for Malawi to be flexible and allow citizens to acquire dual citizenship because global socio-economic trends have also significantly changed.

Ndanga said in the past, including when the UDF was in power, dual citizenship could not be considered because it was then considered unnecessary in the face of the country’s national interests.

“Of late, African countries have adopted the Diaspora concept in which they allow their citizens abroad to contribute to the development agenda,” Ndanga said observing that in the case of Malawi, people in the Diaspora have not been free to contribute to national development due to this legal limitations.

“It is important for us now to support the calls for the review of the citizenship law,” he said. PP Leader in Parliament Uladi Mussa says dual citizenship is a signal that everyone has roots irrespective of the citizenship allegiance they might want later in life hence his party would not have any problems.

“It is not right to tell people to denounce their citizenship because they will still come and visit their parents or relatives and have that willingness to invest in the country,” Uladi says in the local press.

He, however, argued that since dual citizenship holders will “obviously” have allegiance to other countries, the law should bar them from holding public office in Malawi.

Civil society commentator Rafik Hajat says the move by the current Mutharika administration would enhance the spirit of investment among Malawians living in Diaspora where they are because they were getting away from “socio-economic problems that have been rocking the country” to this day.

“Granting dual citizenship will be a renewal of people in the Diaspora’s allegiance to the country. I know that this will meet resistance from some people who have some sense of xenophobic nationalism…,” he said.

The Malawi Washington Association (MWA) told President Mutharika that their desire was to see Malawi’s commitment to the Diaspora “expressed through inclusive citizenship laws that recognize and secure our contributions, investments and property and Malawian identities”.

Writing on Movement for Dual Citizenship for Malawi Facebook page, Katiso Tokoloho Molapo says “British allowed dual citizenship all along yet its colonies did not allow it. It does not make sense. It is as if our constitutions were developed to limit, deter or discourage our development”.

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