Immigration, Uladi Mussa clash over permits
Former Minister of Home Affairs Uladi Mussa approved citizenship permits for 10 Rwandan nationals whose applications the Immigration Department had initially rejected, a development that could potentially be seen as an abuse of ministerial powers on Mussa’s part.
But Mussa, who is now acting president for People’s Party, said his action was informed by the instruction he received from the Chief Immigration Officer then and that there was nothing dubious.
The Immigration Department has since said while the immigration law provides that a minister may rescind a decision rejecting an application, they will launch a probe into this particular case.
Details we have obtained show that on August 1 2008, a Rwanda national [name withheld] applied for a Business Residence Permit (BRP) to the Immigration Department under file number 77169 through Malawi Investment Promotion Agency (Mipa).
He wanted to be manufacturing cooking oil. In the application he included his three dependents; a wife and two children aged 15 and 12.
On April 24 2012, the Rwandan submitted a citizenship application which also included three dependents namely, his wife and two children.
However, the children included in this application were not the ones that he included in the BRP he got in 2008.
The citizenship applications were not pursued because the Rwandan had decided to apply for a Permanent Residence Permit (PRP) on November 21 2012.
PRP was rejected on January 9 2013 but the Rwandan appealed to the Ministry of Home Affairs in June 2013.
Internal memo at the Immigration Department shows that the appeal for PRP was approved by the then minister, Mussa, in September, 2013.
Two months after the approval of the PRP on September 2013, the Rwandan national also applied for citizenship in December that year having stayed in Malawi on BRP for five years.
According to the Citizenship Law, he qualified to apply for citizenships
for only him and his wife and the two children indicated in the BRP.
“However, it was noted that he applied for even [six] other Rwandese nationals who were overaged (beyond the required age limit of below 18 years) at the time of application for citizenship and also not included in the initial BRP,” reads the Immigration document.
Malawi News understands that all these 10 Rwandese acquired Malawi citizenship following the approval by Mussa in March 2014.
Our sources at the Immigration also said that all these citizenship applications were not fully completed on their application forms.
Part III of the application form is completed by indigenous Malawians to back that the person in question is known to them, that they are of good character and that in their opinion the person
in question would be a suitable Malawian.
The witness also ascertains the particulars of the applicant as correct “to the best of his knowledge and belief”.
That part, according to our Immigration sources, was not filled and declarations not signed for.
In an interview on Thursday, Mussa admitted that he approved the citizenships but his action was based on the memo he received from the Chief Immigration Officer.
He argued that there is no way a minister can approve citizenship without a due process from the Immigration Department.
Section 19 of the Immigration Act empowers Home Affairs Minister to approve citizenships to anybody from any country as long as he is fitting to get citizenship.
Told that the particular case had anomalies such as overage of six applicants and that the applications were not fully completed, Mussa said:
“Zawo zimenezo zaku office. [Those are Immigration office issues]. Chief Immigration Officer gave me a memo and I signed. That is all. There is no way one can get citizenship directly from the minister. That cannot happen. Who issued the memo to me?”
Public Relations Officer for the Immigration Department Joseph Chauwa told Malawi News this week that appeals procedure for rejected applications are not provided for in the Immigration Act.
“However, rules of natural justice demand that a person be given an opportunity to appeal against such a decision and in that case an appeal to the Minister is allowed through the Immigration Department and the Minister may rescind an earlier decision,” Chauwa said.
“As regards to the particular application and the facts you have presented, there seems to be some procedures that were not completed or deliberately ignored and as Immigration Department, we are making some investigations to find out how such requirements were overlooked.”
Mussa was Minister of Home Affairs under President Joyce Banda between April 2012 and May 2014.
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