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Malawi: Conditions for acquiring permanent residence and/or citizenship for a woman born in Burundi to a Burundi father and a Malawi mother

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 18 March 2003
Citation / Document Symbol MWI41368.E
Reference 7
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Malawi: Conditions for acquiring permanent residence and/or citizenship for a woman born in Burundi to a Burundi father and a Malawi mother, 18 March 2003, MWI41368.E, available at: [accessed 22 January 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

According to a professor of law at Washington University School of Law and author of 1995 essay on the constitution of Malawi in Constitutions of the Countries of the World, "a person born outside of Malawi acquires Malawi citizenship if one of his/her parents is a Malawi citizen of African race. ...The Malawi Constitution does not recognize dual nationality" (17 Mar. 2003).

In addition, Article 47 of the 1995 Constitution of Malawi stipulates that

(1) Every person who, immediately before the appointed day, was a citizen of Malawi under any existing law shall continue to be a citizen of Malawi after the appointed day.

An Act of Parliament may make provision for the acquisition or loss of citizenship of Malawi by any person after the appointed day, but citizenship shall not be arbitrarily denied or deprived.

In this section, the expression –

(a) "acquisition of citizenship" includes acquisition by birth, descent, marriage, registration, naturalisation or any other means prescribed by an Act of Parliament; and

(b) " loss of citizenship" includes loss by deprivation, renunciation or any other means prescribed by an Act of Parliament (Republic of Malawi Jan. 1995).

An analysis of the Act, posted on the Women's Net Website, adds that,

there are also some pieces of legislation that are inconsistent with the new constitution, promulgated in 1995, which guarantees equal rights for women and men through a Bill of Rights, and impinge on women's rights. One example is the Citizenship Act. According to the Act, a Malawian woman, who marries a foreigner, loses her right to the country's citizenship unless she renounces the citizenship of her foreign husband by the first anniversary of their marriage. It also says children of a Malawian woman by a foreign husband cannot be Malawian citizens (9 June 2000).

According to the Africa News Bulletin (ANB-BIA), the Citizenship Act of Malawi was recently amended and consequently,

thousands of people in Zimbabwe who trace their origin from Malawi, have become destitute, following a recent amendment of the Zimbabwe Citizenship Act which observer's claim is targeted at the white commercial farmers. But there are also large numbers of immigrant farm workers from such neighbouring countries as Mozambique, Zambia and Botswana. It is estimated that over three million Malawians live in Zimbabwe. They are prime targets during the unrest resulting from land redistribution (15 Dec. 2002).

An African News report points out that "resident permits for foreign men who marry Malawian women [cost] US$650 (28, 000 Malawi Kwacha). A foreign woman, however, only pays US$9 (400 Malawi Kwacha)" (Nov. 1999).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Africa News. November 1999. Brian Ligomeka. "Malawi: Citizenship Laws Discriminate Women." [Accessed 14 Mar.2003]

Africa News Bulletin (ANB-BIA). 15 December 2002. Supp. No. 446. "Malawi: Malawian Farmers Stranded in Zimbabwe's Land Crisis." [Accessed 17 Mar. 2003]

Professor of Law, Washington University School of Law, Washington, DC.

17 March 2002. Correspondence.

Republic of Malawi. January 1995. Vol. 11. "Constitution of the Republic of Malawi." Constitutions of the Countries of the World. Edited by Gisbert H. Flanz. Dobbs Ferry, NY: Oceana Publications.

Women's Net. 9 June 2000. Hazwell Kanjaye. "Malawi-Women: New Gender Policy   Improves the Status of Women."   

[Accessed 14 Mar. 2003]

Additional Sources Consulted

Africa Confidential

Africa Research Bulletin

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2001-2002

Keesing's Record of World Events

Two oral sources did not provide information on the requested subject.

Internet sites

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Legal Information Database

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Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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