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ColumnsHitting The Nail

Don’t get moved on visas

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Conspiracy theorists against Western imperialism and patronage hold that the so called developed countries innately do not want Africa to develop as a rich Africa would not suit their selfish interests to control its resources.

The argument basically is that the West would rather have an Africa that is poor so that she remains beholden to foreign mercy for her survival.

It is very easy to dismiss this as a pastime of daylight dreamers but when one hears the position of the West or their representatives on issues such as visa, one is bound to believe some of this stuff.

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Here is the situation. Some super rich countries such as the United States, Germany, UK and Japan require that you and me, if we decide to visit these countries, must get a visa which we pay for through the nose.

The UK High Commission in Lilongwe has stopped processing visas and instead they are done in Pretoria, South Africa and it is just a hassle to get it unless you are sponsored by the UK government for scholarship or other business.

The same goes for EU countries such as Germany. For you to get a Schengen visa that allows you to visit some of the EU countries, it is also a hassle that might take you to Lusaka, Zambia at your own cost even before you leave Malawi soil.

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Malawians have stoically endured all this hassle without complaint. On the other hand, nationals of these countries do come here freely without being asked for a visa.

But Malawi has woken up from its slumber and timidity. Government has decided to slap citizens of these

countries with a visa that has a cost to it as is the custom everywhere in the world.

Surprisingly, what do we get? These rich burgers are up in arms, calling us all sorts of names merely for reciprocating their gesture.

Their supporters are even engaging in fear-mongering, spreading misinformation that the tourism industry would be hit hard if visas were introduced. They have even concocted figures that 300 tourists failed to come down here because of the confusion surrounding the visas.

What they cannot explain is where is the confusion in government saying it has introduced a visa requirement for countries that require Malawian citizens to pay for and get visa before going into them and that all this will be effective this October.

Who counted 300 people that failed to come over here and where are they from?

Why has tourism not been affected in the countries such as Tanzania and Kenya where visas were introduced before Malawi did?

Aren’t these countries not ashamed that they are forcing Malawi, a poorest country in the world, not to charge for a service that they themselves are charging Malawians for?

And is it really true that somebody cannot come here for a holiday because there is an extra $75 that needs to be paid for visa when they needed to plan for more than that amount to make the trip? And then we should fear to reverse this?

Let us call this for what it and it is selfishness aimed at keeping us poor forever while they get rich by charging for things they themselves do not want to pay for.

Our government cannot balance budget. The tax base keep on shrinking by the day and the results are telling in the provision of social services.

It is through creativity and exploring of other avenues of making money that our country will develop.

Government should not give in on this one. Tourists must get and pay for a visa.

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