Already saddled with complaints over how it issues out passports, the Immigration Department has corruptly given out 105 citizenships to Burundians and Rwandans for free thereby denying Treasury up to K43 million in an unpaid fees.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has since referred the matter to law enforcement agencies for investigation and action.
Between 2013 and 2015, the department issued citizenships to 105 Burundians and Rwandans, according to information in our possession.
However, it emerged that most of the dependents of the main applicants did not pay for the citizenships. It was only file owners that paid.
Yet, according to Immigration law, every dependent was supposed to pay for the citizenships.
The dealings were apparently facilitated by officials at the Immigration Department, the Ministry of Home Affairs headquarters and the police.
We have a list of 105 Burundians and Rwandans that got Malawian citizenships in an irregular way.
If the 105, whose file numbers we also have, had paid K500 000 each as per requirement, government would have realised K52.5 million in revenue.
But from the 105 foreigners, there are only 19 files under which the rest appeared as dependents and did not pay the money. This means that only 19 file owners paid to government K9.5 million with government losing K43 million in the process.
The requirement is that an applicant for Malawian Citizenship should pay. If a man has wife and children, everybody is required to pay the amount and at that time the amount was K500 000.
According to the details we have, some applicants sought clearance from the Police to get the citizenships.
For example, holder of file number 97896 got police clearance through number: Police CID/FPB/V/CN/Vol.3/101 JPB Nkhoma. The clearance number was IM/HA/3/7/X1X/326.
File number 91630 gives details of a refugee whose identity is 27400004980 who got a Malawian Citizenship. He applied for the citizenship status in May 2012 and sent it to the Ministry of Home Affairs on May 9 of the same year and it was approved on October 1 2013 with the approval authority from the minister IM/HA/03/7/Vol XX340.
The refugee was cleared by Police Criminal Investigations Department through the number CID/FPB/V/CN/Vol 1/234 and reference number IM/HA/03/7/Vol XXX/62.
And after getting Malawian citizenship, he also helped other foreigners to get Malawian citizenships through file number 92634.
Records show that five applicants for file number 92406 applied for the citizenships through one legal firm on 12/6/2012 and the Police CID cleared them through number CID/FPB/V/CN/Vol3/125 and clearance number IM/ HA/03/7/136/X1X/264. The applicant was in the country since 2002 and his permit status was not clear.
Immigration Department National spokesperson Joseph Chauwa confirmed on Monday that government lost millions of kwacha because it was discovered that dependents did not pay the required K500 000 for citizenship.
He also said it was abnormal that some of those that were given citizenships were refugees.
Asked how citizenships are processed, Chauwa said the process starts from Permit Officer then to Citizenship Officer then to Chief Citizenship Officer and later to Chief Immigration Officer.
A senior Immigration officer who did not want to be named said the only way out is for the department to revoke the citizenships and the passports that were issued illegally.
“We know which officers were doing that and they need to face the law. We have no choice here but to revoke the citizenships; after all we have addresses of all the applicants,” said the officer.
Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security Jappie Mhango said in an interview on Monday that the matter was already referred to agencies responsible for investigations to get to its bottom before government takes action.
“When this is done, decisions will be taken on those that obtained these documents fraudulently. Malawians should be assured that government is determined to root out this vice so as to protect these official documents from being accessed by non-deserving persons,” said Mhango.
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