Source: Daily Maverick (South Africa)
An investigation by amaBhungane has turned a spotlight on systemic corruption in Malawi’s immigration department, involving the alleged issuing of fraudulent travel documents, work permits and citizenship rights to non-nationals in return for backhanders of up to $2,000. By Tamanda Matebule for AMABHUNGANE.
A nine-member syndicate involving state officials – one allegedly in State House – and a private Lilongwe-based businessman is driving the fraudulent document scam, departmental sources have said.
The fraudulent issuing of travel documents, mainly, it is alleged, to Bangladeshi and Pakistani nationals, has a direct bearing on South Africa. Sources in the department said many illegal immigrants are using corruptly obtained transit visas to cross into Mozambique en route to South Africa, their ultimate destination.
Attempts to reach South African Home Affairs Director-General, Mkuseli Apleni, and the deputy DG for immigration services, Jackie McKay, to establish whether the South African authorities were aware of the claim were unsuccessful.
The rot appears to reach to the top echelons of both Malawi’s home affairs Ministry and the immigration department, which falls under it.
In March this year the former home affairs minister in Joyce Banda’s administration, Uladi Mussa; the former chief of immigration, Hudson Mankhwala; and David Kwanjana, former chief citizenship officer, were jointly charged in the Lilongwe Magistrate’s Court with “corruptly issuing citizenship to Burundians and Rwandans, among other nationals”.
The documents allege that Mussa fraudulently granted citizenship documents to more than 50 foreigners in 2013 when he was minister of home affairs.