By Deogratias Mmana
The government has ordered refugees and asylum seekers living and plying businesses in undesignated places outside Dzaleka Refugee Camp and rural places in the country to close their shops and return to legal places of residence or face prosecution.
The foreigners have been given a grace period of 14 days from the day they receive the notice to pack their property and return to where they are supposed to be.
This is contained in a notice, dated April 1 2021, from the Ministry of Homeland Security (MoHS) which is addressed to all refugees and asylum seekers residing outside Dzaleka Refugee Camp and in rural areas of the country.
The notice, which MoHS Senior Deputy Principal Secretary Patricia Liabuba has signed, further warns the foreigners about conducting business without prescribed documents as required by the law.
“The notice, therefore, serves to direct that you avail yourselves to [sic] the designated area for your residence in Malawi. As such you are requested to close your business and return to the camp commencing from the first day that this notice is received and shall provide a grace period of fourteen (14) working days,” the notice reads.
Ministry of Homeland Security spokesperson Andrew Nyondo said the police, immigration and refugee departments had engaged the refugees sensitising them to the development.
Nyondo said the government was against refugees and asylum seekers living and plying businesses in undesignated places.
“Those who will not comply will be swept from where they are to where they are supposed to be,” Nyondo said.
When asked to disclose how much revenue government fails to raise because of smuggling, where foreigners plying businesses in undesignated places are also involved, Ministry of Finance spokesperson Williams Banda said in a brief response: “More than K50 billion monthly. Illicit financial flow.”
A businessman in Area 25, Lilongwe, Dyson Kalembera, said he had been a victim of the foreigners in Area 25 and has since closed his shop.
“A foreigner came and convinced my landlord to evict me from my shop. I left and found another shop. Another foreigner came too and talked to the landlord to evict me so that he could use the shop. As I speak, I have no shop. I have kept my groceries in my house,” Kalembera said.