The government has failed to relocate refugees and asylum seekers to Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Dowa District despite making a commitment to do so by Wednesday.
Coincidentally, President Lazarus Chakwera has appointed a new Homeland Security Minister on the day the deadline for urban area-based refugees to return to their official home in Dowa elapsed.
The Ministry of Homeland Security announced, when its political head was Jean Sendeza, that it had set November 30 2022 and February 1 2023 as deadlines for the refugees and asylum seekers who are operating businesses in rural and urban areas, respectively, to go back to the camp.
The ministry had warned that if they failed to voluntarily go back as directed, it would enforce a relocation exercise with the help of law enforcement agencies such as the Malawi Police Service and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services.
However, when The Daily Times crew conducted spot-checks in Lilongwe and Blantyre, it observed that refugees and asylum seekers from countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Rwanda are still in localities, operating small-scale businesses such as retail shops.
Secretary for Homeland Security Oliver Kumbambe chose to go mute when we engaged him on Tuesday and Wednesday.
And when we asked the ministry’s director of administration Symon Maliko about the issue, after he appeared before the Parliamentary Committee on Defence Wednesday, he referred us to Kumbambe.
Meanwhile, Small-scale Business Operators Association of Malawi General Secretary Tennyson Mulimbula has asked the government to act with speed on the issue.
Mathews Kasanda is a journalist who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from University of Malawi (The Polytechnic).
In 2015, Media Institute of Southern Africa awarded him the Best Print Media Education Journalist of the Year accolade.
He joined Times Group Newsroom in September 2019.