In 2014, during the xenophobic attacks on foreigners in South Africa, Malawians made up a huge number of victims more than other nationals that trekked to South Africa in search of greener pastures.
Time and again, we hear about some Malawians being caught while crossing the borders in search of opportunities. Most even go on this venture without legal documents, thereby putting themselves at huge risk.
As we are speaking now, some Malawians— in hundreds—are being kept at Lindela in South Africa is some dehumanising conditions as they are waiting to be deported back home.
Just yesterday, 150 Malawians arrived at Kamuzu International Airport after being deported from South Africa. We are talking about a group of people whose majority are in productive years and could help develop this country if given opportunities.
But since opportunities are thin in the country, our people choose to embark on risky ventures trekking out for the sake of making ends meet. In the end, it is the nation that gets embarrassed when Malawians are deported.
The reason some Malawians are reduced to economic migrants is that our systems are not properly in place to provide opportunities for the youth. Some interventions have been initiated but, still, they are not enough to end the unemployment crisis which is forcing people out of the country.
We know that the government introduced community technical colleges that are meant to equip the youth with vocational skills. Good as the idea is, the whole effort is defeated after one acquires the skills because of the difficulties to have start-up capital. Loan conditions in our financial institutions are rigid and favour those that already have enough.
The government needs to seriously initiate and implement policies that will help create jobs—both formal and informal—so that the human resource we lose to countries like South Africa is retained.
Perhaps Malawians have forgotten. Three or four years ago, one tourism institution advertised for jobs. Before the sun rose, the queue of unemployed youths as well as the aged was snaking to hundreds of metres, all searching for an opportunity. That picture should have been a jab for the government to realise that something needed to be done to change the situation; otherwise, we will continue being embarrassed as our people continue to be deported.
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