Rotary Club district governor for Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique Chisambwe Katengo says lack of economic empowerment is fuelling violence in the region.
He said this in Blantyre on Wednesday last week in an exclusive interview after touring some development projects being implemented by the Rotary Club of Limbe.
Katengo, who is an architect and runs an architectural company called PJP in Zambia, said the past month has been disturbing due to rising cases of violence in the region.
He said: “I am very disturbed because one of our thematic areas of focus is [to foster] peace. Peace is not only the absence of war. It is when people are unable to live in harmony. I was in Harare when the demonstrations were happening, I was in Bulawayo when demonstrations were happening and today [Wednesday] I found myself in Blantyre and met with demonstrations.
“In South Africa, they were fighting because they said Zimbabweans, Mozambicans and Malawians are grabbing their jobs. Why? Because they lack economic empowerment. We, as Rotarians, we want within our communities to empower people economically and when they are empowered, it will translate to peace.”
The Rotary, which is branded as a place of hope for the less-privileged, was in the forefront helping people who were affected by Cyclone Idai that hit some parts of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi in March this year.
The African Union estimated that two million people were affected by the cyclone, which also damaged crop fields, communication and infrastructure, while some roads became impassable.
The charitable organisation—which has among its thematic areas basic education literacy, child and maternal health and peace—mobilised over $30 000 (about K22.3 million) to buy food, tents and water filters, among others, to assist the affected people in the three countries.
Katengo, who is the 19th district governor and his term runs from 2019 to 2020, pledged to continue supporting Cyclone Idai victims in the region through a resettlement programme.
Commenting on Katengo’s remarks, a University of Malawi Chancellor College economics professor Ben Kalua concurred that lack of economic empowerment fuels violence in the region.
He said there is need for government to deal with high unemployment levels, especially among the youth, adding that most perpetrators of violence are the youth who have nothing to do for a living.
Said Kalua: “We are talking about unemployment among the youth. In small medium enterprises, that’s where jobs are created and that is the most vibrant area of any economy in countries like the US [United States of America] and China. Malawi should do the same in a very vigorous manner, very sustainable, and very committed. This will help to bring peace.”
Katengo, whose tour to Malawi was aimed at reinforcing linkages between clubs, joined Kusinta Rotary Club of Lusaka in 2000 after being inspired by charity works by the club.
The organisation has 1.2 million members with 36 000 clubs in 539 rotary districts globally. The district 9210, which comprises Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia and part of Mozambique, has 58 clubs with 1 300 members. Zimbabwe leads with 26 clubs followed by Zambia 24, Malawi five and Mozambique three.