By Iommie Chiwalo
The Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) in line with the Access To Information Act (ATI), is demanding a public vetting and review of all working permits for the Chinese nationals working at Sino Hydro camp site West Bank in Chikwawa district.
In a letter addressed to Immigration Chief and signed by CDEDI Executive Director Sylvester Namiwa, the department has been tasked to review the permits within the next fourteen days.
The calls by CDEDI are coming after a scene in a video clip that can best be described as total chaos due to the language barrier.
In the clip, the Chinese nationals could neither speak English nor Chichewa and similarly, the locals could not speak Chinese language.
The video clip has prompted CDEDI to refer to the Immigration Act Section 4 that specifies
prohibited immigrants and their entry into or presence within Malawi; precisely subsection
1(b) which talks about any person who is unable, by reason of deficient education, to read and write any one of any class of language as may be prescribed by the Minister by regulation to the satisfaction of an immigration officer.
“If the scene in the said clip is anything to go by, then it is clear that corners were cut in the vetting process before the issuance of the temporary employment permits to these Chinese nationals at Sino Hydro and China Power, which are involved in the construction of canals that form part of the Shire Valley Transformation Programme,” he said in a letter addressed to Immigration Chief Charles Kalumo.
Namiwa also noted that apart from the language, information in his possession shows that some of the foreign nationals are working as fuel attendants, welders and general mechanics.
He said such malpractices needs to be checked because such jobs are not only meant for the locals but also gives reasonable grounds to suspect that this is not what they indicated in their applications for their respective permits.
He has therefore asked for an immediate response from the Immigration Chief so that there is sanity in the industry where there must be a realistic yardstick when sourcing expatriates.
Immigration department has confirmed receipt of the letter from CDEDI but has asked for more time to review its contents.