The U.S. government has imposed a travel ban on a special adviser to Malawi’s president because of corruption charges.
Malawi’s Anti-Corruption Bureau arrested Uladi Mussa in 2017, alongside a senior immigration official, on charges they fraudulently issued citizenship and passports to people from Burundi and Rwanda.
Court documents show Mussa committed the offense in 2013 when he was minister of home affairs during the administration of former President Joyce Banda.
Mussa has denied the charges; however, in a statement Wednesday, the U.S. State Department said it has credible information connecting Mussa to corruption.
“We have laws on that, under Section 7031 (c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Act, which required us to designate him as a person of corruption,” said Douglas Johnson, the public affairs officer at the U.S. embassy in Malawi.
The U.S. government also extended the travel ban to Mussa’s spouse, Cecilia. Neither will be allowed to enter U.S. territory.
Speaking to VOA Thursday, Mussa said he is surprised with how the U.S. government has handled the matter.
“Is that a way they handle issues of diplomacy?” he asked. “Could you tell the embassy to furnish me with that information officially and diplomatically, because I don’t have any report on this? How do they know me? There are so many people who have cases in court. Why only me?”
Johnson said the ban was issued in Washington to the Malawian government, which he believes will communicate it to Mussa.
Political commentator Vincent Kondowe says the ban is a wake-up call for Malawi’s government to address corruption.
“What the U.S. government has done is the indirect message to Malawi government that probably they are not doing enough in the fight against corruption,” he said. “Remember that Uladi Mussa is not a junior public officer. He is the presidential adviser.”
Kondowe said the government could clear its image by removing Mussa from his position until all court matters are resolved.
Speaking to VOA, government spokesperson Mark Botoman noted that the corruption scandal did not happen under the administration of the current president, Peter Mutharika.
Botoman said the government will monitor the situation before it reaches any decision on the matter.