The Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has asked the Ministry of Homeland Security to audit all work permits due to lapses in the country’s immigration system.
HRDC chairperson Gift Trapence in a letter dated August 31 2021 to Minister of Homeland Security Richard Chimwendo Banda says such lapses have resulted in using expired work permits contrary to what the law dictates.
According to the letter, the HRDC has been compelled to write the ministry following reports they have received that some companies continue to bypass the immigration system to have staff working for them without proper work permits.
Reads in part the letter: “HRDC is, therefore, calling upon the Ministry of Homeland Security to institute a routine spot-check programme that will be monitoring companies and individuals who are not complying with the immigration laws of this country and bring such individuals and companies to book.”
The letter stresses that if the Ministry of Homeland Security heeds their request, it will be able to stamp out corruption at the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services when issuing permits.
When contacted yesterday, Minister of Homeland Security Chimwendo Banda said his office was yet to receive the letter as of yesterday.
He, however, downplayed challenges on the issue of work permits saying the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services carries out routine checks.
He said: “Right now the Immigration Department goes around checking the work permits and in some instances, some foreigners are deported because the law takes its course. So, I can say we have no challenges on that.”
On his part, Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services deputy spokesperson Wellington Chiponde said the Ministry of Homeland Security was better-placed to comment on the matter.
He said: “Looking at the letter, it is addressing the Minister [of Homeland Security] and not us so the question should be channelled to the minister.”
In recent years, authorities have been pouncing on foreigners working without permits.
For instance, in July 2020, it was discovered that Salima Sugar Company had over 60 Indian nationals including some top management officials that did not have work permits.”
The discovery was made when Chimwendo Banda visited the company’s factory and subsequently, arrests were made days later.