The Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services says the scarcity of financial and material resources is one of the factors compromising efforts aimed at keeping irregular immigrants at bay.
The department’s director general, retired Brigadier Charles Kalumo, disclosed this when he appeared before the Public Accounts Committee (Pac) of Parliament.
He said Malawi has open boundaries, hence the need for adequate resources to secure its borders, saying irregular immigrants pose a national security threat.
“Even if we had millions of people standing hand by hand, we cannot cover the whole country as resources are meagre,” he said.
He said vigilance among the citizenry could help security agencies address the problem of irregular immigration.
Pac Chairperson Mark Botomani concurred with Kalumo on the need to allocate more resources to security agencies such as the department.
He said it does not make sense that Malawians are flagged down by traffic police officers every time they use the country’s roads, only for people from other countries to move unhindered due to porous borders.
“If you ask an ordinary person like me, they will tell you that they feel bothered that almost every five kilometres, they are stopped by police and immigration officers. The same should apply to people coming into Malawi. We, as a committee, therefore understand the position [of the Immigration Department],” Botomani said.
He called for collaborative efforts to secure the country’s borders.
After the meeting, Immigration Department Head of Research and Planning Vivian Kasambo told journalists that most of the immigrants come from Tanzania through Chitipa and Karonga districts, hence the department’s decision to establish several roadblocks and check points.
Recently, 30 bodies of people suspected to be irregular immigrants were found buried in a mass grave in a forest in the Northern Region district of Mzimba.
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.