By Watipaso Mzungu
The Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) has challenged native small and medium business operators to step up their operations to save the economy from an imminent collapse as refugees and asylum seekers relocate to Dzaleka Refugee Camp.
The human rights watchdog has also asked the Malawi Government to consider integrating some of the refugees and asylum seekers who have proven to be of economic value to the nation.
CDEDI executive director Sylvester Namiwa made the remarks in response to the directive by the Ministry of Homeland Security that the relocation of the fugitives should restart following the lifting of the injunction yesterday.
Namiwa, who addressed journalists in Lilongwe on Wednesday afternoon, observed that business nearly came to standstill in most of the suburbs of Lilongwe, Mangochi, Dowa and Blantyre.
“This, unfortunately, tells us that business operations in the country are precisely dominated by foreign based business operators, most of whom have no legal permits for such business activities. Marriages are at the verge of disintegrating – the government directive has unearthed cases of intermarriages, where some refugees and asylum seekers have married our native women and vice versa,” he said.
Namiwa further observed that some of the refugees and asylum seekers came in with skills and expertise that have benefited the society and are rendering essential services in areas of health, education and social work.
He alleged that there has been selective application of justice against fugitives from Rwanda and Burundi, fondly called Maburundi, when those from Nigeria, Somalia, India, Pakistan, Lebanon and China are left scot-free.
“There are concerns of inadequate space at Dzaleka Refugee Camp and it is against this background that CDEDI is calling for a review process of our laws to ensure that some of these refugees and asylum seekers are integrated into the society, as they have proven to be critical to the social and economic development of our nation, despite their status. Most importantly, CDEDI would like to challenge the local business people to up their game in order to fill the gap that has been created due to the relocation exercise of the refugees and asylum seekers to Dzaleka Refugee Campso that consumers should not be punished,” he said.
Meanwhile, confusion has emerged following revelations that there were two injunctions against the government decision to relocate the refugees, with only one lifted.
While Judge Ruth Chinangwa had thrown out an injunction obtained by Elie Umkunzi at the Lilongwe Registry, Judge Mandala Mambulasa is yet to deliver his ruling on another injunction obtained by Abdul Nahimana at the Blantyre Registry.