Keeping a cool head


For quite a while now, pressure has been heating up from within the society, buoyed by the authorities, to have refugees that settled and have been plying their trade in some of the country’s major towns and cities relocate back to Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Dowa District.

Just like any other country, I believe Malawi too has guiding principles and laws on how to handle people that have fled their homeland and are seeking asylum or refugee status.

Indeed, Malawi is party to several international instruments to do with the handling of refugees and their welfare status.


I am trying to imagine a scenario where some of these refugees ended up marrying some of our brothers and sisters, to an extent that they have children some of whom are now adults. What happens to them? Do we ship them enmasse to Dzaleka, not minding the fact that the husband or wife is an indigenous Malawian? What of the children, who were born and bred in these towns and cities which they have known as their only home? Do we begin to uproot them, including from those schools and colleges, so that they can go and settle at Dzaleka? To me, something just does not seem to be right.

Now, if the idea is what Homeland Security Minister Ken Zikhale Ng’oma said in the course of the week that the relocation is to ensure that those that are involved in business obtain documentation as businesspersons, then I see no reason why we have to take the trouble of having to disrupt their entire lives. After all, in one breath we are being told that there are about 3,000 refugees who are doing small-scale business so, if we already have such data, what can stop us from enforcing the required law that these people must obtain the business permits without forcing them to go 20 or 25 years back?

Now, there might be no malice intended in the campaign to have the refugees relocated and certainly our indigenous brothers pursuing entrepreneurship have every right to be heard and seek to expand their exploits but that, I believe, must be done while giving total regard to governing statutes.


I was somewhat perplexed to hear from the very minister that there are ‘offensive weapons” at Dzaleka, which pose a danger to the country (as quoted by The Daily Times of Wednesday)…What safety guarantees then are there for the refugees we want to have relocated to the camp?

Whatever the motive, we need to ensure that we all calm our nerves and soberly handle this issue, otherwise we should not behave as if we are ‘loose cannons’.

If necessary, the law must be followed and enforced with due regard to international statutes so that we ensure we do not violate any human rights provisions that are supposed to be accorded to refugees. At the end of the day, we must bear in mind that life is unpredictable. How we treat our fellow human beings (refugees inclusive) can have a bearing on how fellow Malawians are treated elsewhere. We need to spread love and not animosity.

But then, I am also mindful of the fact that Malawi is a sovereign state and as such, it has the liberty to apply its laws where necessary. Let us just keep cool heads on this issue.


Let us avoid man-made disasters

It is quite unfortunate that this year, raging waters have continued to make life unbearable for Malawians. After witnessing the Cyclone Freddy-induced disaster claim hundreds of innocent lives in the Southern Region, concern is still the prevalent motion as high water levels are giving people sleepless nights especially in lakeshore districts of Mangochi, Nkhotakota and Nkhata Bay.

It was pretty much the same in Mzuzu where it rained for about three consecutive days and the rising water levels were causing discomfort to many, fearing the worst. But thank heavens no more lives were lost, though others in Mangochi are bitterly complaining about their submerged hospitality properties along the shore, a development that brought their business to a halt.

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