The Malawi Government says it has no resources to control the influx and illegal immigrants in the country.
Immigration Department director general Masauko Medi said this on Tuesday when he and other officials from his department and the Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security met the Parliamentary Committee on International Relations to discuss permits issued to some Chinese and Indians.
Medi said there are many irregularities in the immigration system, including an outdated Migration and Citizens Act of 1966 which has instruments that are not applicable now.
He said: “As Immigration, let us say that we have weak systems. We have erred on immigration and we have erred on expert labour. We need to deal with the system first before we can deal with illegal immigrants. The problem is we don’t have money to repatriate these illegal immigrants, unless we have resources to do that or we will continue the way we are.”
Medi also called for a review of the Citizen and Immigration Act to help control the challenge of illegal immigrants who later take up Malawian businesses.
Committee chairperson Alex Major expressed worry over Medi’s remarks, saying it is sad that Malawi cannot repatriate illegal immigrants due to lack of resources.
He said the committee will take the issue to Parliament and also to advocate for a repatriation centre where rejected immigrants can be kept.
Said Major: “We are very concerned with this revelation. As a country, we could have found ways and procedures on how to solve this. We will not rest until these rejected immigrants are deported.”
Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security Senior Deputy Secretary Patricia Liabuba said most of the rejected immigrants are from East African countries such as Ethiopia, Burundi and Rwanda.
She said government needs roughly $500 000 (about K360 million) annually to repatriate illegal immigrants.
Liabuba also said apart from the rejected immigrants the country also faces a challenge of false foreign investors who are engaged in businesses which locals should be doing.
“Some of these foreigners including, Chinese and Indians come in as investors. There are specific laws that govern one to come as an investor. The problem is the fee that is charged, $200 000 (about K148 million) is little money. So, after they acquire the permits they start doing something different. As government, we need to ensure that the investors do what they came for,” she said.
Of late Malawians have been complaining to government to act on the takeover of small businesses by foreign nationals.
According to the Immigration Department, the Chinese have 1 398 Temporary Employment Permits (TEP) against Indians’ 1 324. About 572 Chinese registered for business permits to open factories, but the department says the factories are not there.