The United States Embassy in Lilongwe has dismissed as fake news reports circulating on social media alleging that the US has added Malawi on the list of countries whose citizens are exempted from entering the country on a visa.
The social media reports connected the alleged development to the US Government being impressed with the achievements of President Peter Mutharika’s administration.
But the US Embassy took to Twitter and Facebook to rebuff the news, urging Malawians travelling to the US to still go through the visa application process.
“The US Embassy has seen false reports that Malawian citizens will no longer require visas for temporary travel to the United States. These reports are untrue. While we welcome visitors to the United States, Malawian citizens travelling to the United States must apply for and receive a visa prior to travel.
“We caution the Malawian public to be wary of potential scams and misinformation about US visas, and to visit the US Embassy website’s visa page, at mw.usembassy.gov/visas/ for accurate information about US visa policy.”
On his part, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Principal Secretary Ben Botolo said the ministry was not aware of the source of the reports.
He said: “Our relations with the US government remain robust and the status quo remains in terms of the visa application process.”
Nandini Patel, a political analyst who said she has recently been a victim of fake news, warned in an interview yesterday that fake news can negatively affect the democratic process by causing undue anxiety.
“There was already fake news, we don’t know if there has been increase of fake news. It fuels anxiety and can cause political violence. Some people are using social media irresponsibly. This problem needs to be tackled,” she said.
Media Institute of Southern Africa-Malawi chairperson Teresa Ndanga has since urged the public to rely on verified news from professional media institutions to counter fake news.