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Government can’t track Malawians in diaspora

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Government has said it does not have figures on the population estimates of Malawians staying outside the country.

These include people holding Malawian passports or citizenship and people who have Malawian origins but are currently holding passports of other countries.

Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dalitso Kabambe, told Parliamentary Committee on International Relations yesterday that the existing legal framework governing the country’s foreign affairs does not really consider the issue of Malawians in diaspora.

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In 2012, the government established Diaspora Unit whose job is to connect Malawians living outside thecountry.

“What we have been trying to grapple with is to see whether we can estimate the size of population of Malawians in diaspora. How many Malawians would have identified their origins to Malawi and are living abroad, whether they are now holding citizenships of other countries or are holders or Malawian passports? This is one of the things that we have been struggling with and the fact of the matter is that the actual estimate in not known,” Kabambe said.

He said the government believes through the foreign policy, which is currently in draft form, the issue will be sorted out so that the number of Malawians staying outside is known.

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“It is one of the specific issues that we are challenging our embassies so that they may be able to establish some proper estimates and begin to develop data of how many Malawians are living in their countries of jurisdiction so that they can begin to follow up on whether the numbers are growing or the numbers are going down,” he said.

Kabambe said while some very rough estimates indicate that there are 5 million people in South Africa and 3 million people who can connect themselves to Malawi in Zimbabwe, the government hopes the embassies in Pretoria and Harare will come with formal estimates.

There are even no rough estimates for the population of Malawians staying in other countries both in Africa and outside Africa.

Vice Chairperson for the International Relations Committee in Parliament, Alex Meja, said it is disappointing to hear that Malawi does not know the number of her people abroad despite the presence of the bodies responsible for immigration.

“This means that we don’t have mechanisms that we can use to track our citizens. If you play with one American here, the whole American Government will shake and the same with Israel.

This is showing that as country, we are not serious. We have taken that matter and we will see how we can have a mechanism to track our citizens,” Meja said.

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