Now that concerned citizens have petitioned parliament over the extradition of the Rwandan genocide suspect Vincent Murekezi, government should see the seriousness of the issue and act accordingly. Lowani Mtonga



Government risks suffering serious diplomatic repercussion with the Rwandan government and also damage its reputation in the eyes of the international community if it continues to keep Murekezi.
Since the issue of the genocide suspect surfaced, the government has not taken the issue seriously. Even when it has been established that Murekeziobtained the Malawian passport illegally and eventually got citizenship, the government has chosen to ignore the issue.
Home Affairs and Internal Security Minister Grace Chiumia was quoted in the media as saying she knows “the suspect as a successful businessman”.But this response coming from a minister responsible for home affairs and internal security is not good enough. She is running away from the real issue.
Malawians, the Rwandan government and other interest groups are expecting concrete action from government since it has come to light that he obtained the Malawianpassport illegally and that he is a genocide suspect.
As if this is not incriminating enough, media reports say that “the Director of the Rwanda National Prosecuting Authority has confirmed that Murekezi is a genocide convict who was duly tried by the Rwandan Special Tribunal on Genocide.” It is more embarrassing that the Malawi government through the Department of Public Prosecutions is aware of the issue and has not acted, since 2009, on the request from their Rwandan counterpart to extradite Murekezi.
The fact that there is overwhelming evidence that Murekeziobtained a Malawian passport fraudulently is enough reason to cancel his citizenship and deport him because he lied that he wasVincent Banda bornin Mbeya, Tanzania when he is a Rwandan born in Ngoma-Huye. Under the law, anyone who obtains anything under false pretense is a criminal offence. The fact that he purported to be a Malawian citizen also means he was hiding something.
Now that the truth has emerged that he obtained the passport under false pretense, his Malawian nationality should be revoked and deported to face justice. People who run away from justice should not been given protection, let alone be given citizenship. Only genuine asylum seekers are worth to be sheltered.
Certainly, the Rwandangovernment will still continue to push for the extradition of Murekezi and might even seek the help of international community to ensure that Malawi government complies. With concerned citizens delivering a petition to parliament to extradite Murekezi, the issue has gained international recognition and may gain momentum. Other institutions around the world may join the crusade. They may even be calling for some sanctions against Malawi to ensure government does the needful. This may bring unnecessarily suffering on innocent Malawian because of someone who is not even a Malawian in the first place. So government should not treat this issue lightly.
If government continues to dilly-dally to act, concerned citizens and human rights organisations should use other avenues such as local courts, the African Union and the International Criminal Court. Opposition MPs should equally take a keen interest in this issue.
The reputation of Malawi has suffered as a result of protecting the genocide suspect. Malawians are already outraged that someone who is a genocide suspect obtained Malawian nationality fraudulently. Minister Chiumia may not be strong enough to clean up the Immigration Department. However, the cabinet, under the principle of collective responsibility, should assist her to get rid of corruption. It is worrying how the Immigration Department is giving Malawian passport to foreign nationals from Nigeria, Somalia, Zambia, Burundi, Tanzania and Rwanda because of corruption.

This is putting Malawi at risk of being infiltrated by undesirable elements and other shady characters. Foreign nationals who apply for Malawian citizenship (naturalisation) should obtain police clearance from their countries of origin and in Malawi. They should be subjected to stringent security checks both within and outside Malawi, a process that should take not less than six months. Some people change their citizenship to conceal their criminal activities or runaway from justice. So Immigration Department should be serious and careful with immigration issues.
Meanwhile, Malawians are expecting the government to act on the petition. It will be embarrassing to act because the international community and other foreign bodies starts to comment or exert pressure.