Malawian victims of xenophobia drifting back to South Africa in large numbers: ‘Can’t withstand the Malawi economic hardships’

It is not if, but when. That seems to be the intention of Malawian refugees who are back in their motherland about returning to South Africa.

South Africa’s grass is still greener

South Africa’s grass is still greener

One returnee, Sangwani Gunda, told Mail and Guardian (amaBunghane)  he and others expect to go back soon. They’re being told by their South African friends that calm has returned.

“We can’t withstand the economic hardship here,” he said.

Another Malawian, who returned to South Africa last week, said most people felt cheated by their government’s promises that they would be taken care of once they got home.

“They promised to put us into technical colleges to learn entrepreneurial skills and give us capital and equipment to start businesses,” he said. “When we arrived in Blantyre we were given money for transport home, a blanket and a plastic bucket. Nobody talked about skills training.”

AmaBhungane understands some 70 beneficiaries of the Malawi government’s repatriation programme, planning to return to South Africa, were stopped by Malawian immigration authorities at border posts.

The return — driven by Malawi’s poverty — threatens to undermine the 200-million kwatcha (R5-million) programme. Malawi was the only African country to launch a repatriation exercise in April for 3?200 of its citizens following a wave of attacks on foreigners in which two Malawians were killed. Five others died in transit to Malawi, Information Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa told a media conference this month.

The repatriation effort
Paul Chiunguzeni, of the department of disaster management affairs, said government acted quickly to save Malawian expatriates in South Africa. “We established a ministerial committee to facilitate repatriation and ensure that all the victims were brought home safely,” he said.

Six buses carrying the first group of 390 returnees arrived in Blantyre on April 20; the last bus, carrying 65 returnees, arrived on May 15. Malawi’s immigration department records show 3?300 xenophobia victims have so far returned to Malawi, using 40 buses hired in South Africa.

Chiunguzeni said the government had suspended the exercise until it received notification from the Malawi high commission in South Africa that other Malawians living in camps wished to come home. He denied reports that government halted the programme because people were returning to South Africa days after having been repatriated.

Adam Ali, the repatriation co-ordinator in Durban, said this week that about 40 Malawians were still camping at the Mariannhill mosque in Durban awaiting repatriation, while 157 others not in the camps had approached the Islamic relief organisation Firqatud Dawah for help.

On April 30, immigration officers at the Dedza border post detained 27 Malawians who tried to return to South Africa in the bus the government had hired to take them home. “Although some had valid documents, we wouldn’t allow them to return to South Africa because government has spent a lot of money repatriating them,” said officer Macfelix Mapemba.

Days earlier police in Lilongwe detained a KwaZulu-Natal-registered bus carrying 70 passengers, including six repatriated Malawians.

They were acting on a tip-off: passengers had refused to leave the bus during a garage stop and instead pulled down the curtains to hide themselves. The driver and conductor bolted when they saw the police.

Many return to SA “daily”
On May 7, immigration officers at the Mwanza border post detained another South African bus for allegedly smuggling repatriated Malawians to South Africa.

Mwanza border spokesperson Pasqualli Zulu said, “All 35 passengers got out and walked to the border as if they were visiting friends in Mozambique. It made us suspicious.”

He said 14 passengers were arrested. The rest ran away.

An immigration official who asked to remain nameless said “a few unlucky individuals” had been caught and many others were returning to South Africa on a daily basis.

Malawi’s director of the nongovernmental organisation Innovations for Poverty Action, Thomas Chataghalala Munthali, said returnees may have weighed the options and decided they were doing better in South Africa. “Malawi is poor … most of those who go to work in South Africa are unskilled,” he said.

Another Malawian said he could not cope with the difficulties he experienced when he arrived at his home in the southern district of Phalombe, hard hit by the recent floods.

“I found my village completely washed away; people have nothing to eat as the crops were also destroyed. There was no hope. I had no house and was relying on relatives who were also struggling to find food.”

He is optimistic he will find piecework in South Africa.

Frustrating
Chiunguzeni said the return of those repatriated was frustrating. “Government did what it could. It’s sad for them to be returning [so soon] after arriving.”

Chiunguzeni said the government couldn’t afford to give returnees extra money. Civil society organisations in Malawi, including the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation, have urged the government to create employment opportunities as a long-term solution to the Malawian exodus down south.

The government says unemployment will be partly solved through a community college initiative President Peter Mutharika launched in March, which seeks to train rural youths in entrepreneurial skills that will make them self-sufficient.–M&G /amaBunghane

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48 thoughts on “Malawian victims of xenophobia drifting back to South Africa in large numbers: ‘Can’t withstand the Malawi economic hardships’”

  1. kako says:

    Osadzawathandizanso azolowera

  2. Pali uchi pali njuchi

  3. DOBO says:

    Dziko la Malawi lidafika powolo.A Malawife tidafika powoleratu.A tsongoleri athu ndi mphitsi zenizini kapena anamkafumbwe.Achikhala Europe ili pafupi ambiri titanthawamo muno.M’malawi momuno anthu ena sadziwa kuti M’malawi muno muli umphawi ooooopya nchifukwa chake amanyoza azawo .Amenewo ndiye mphutsizo ndi anamkafumbwe amene akuwonga dziko lino.

  4. Teacher says:

    Malawian government through its spokesperson are an overzealous bunch of dunderheads. By embarking on a repatriation exercise, blowing and touting it in the media they thought they are scoring some political mileage. Deep down their hearts they knew it was just a waste of time and resources. For sure the government knew that these people will surely trek back once calm is restored. For sure life in Malawi is pathetic. Poor roads from Nsanje to Chitipa, poor public transport, poor public services delivery system (from immigration, road traffic, etc), pathetic wages, high illiteracy levels, umve ndiye ndiwosayamba mma town, just to mention but a few. Tribalism, Corruption (bribes and nepotism) are the order of the day. For sure you cannot dream of living under such conditions for long unless you embrace one if not all of them. Buy hey, they one good this in Malawi. Beer. That’s the only thing you can enjoy in Malawi. Beer drinking. from Chinsapo to Kawale, from chilomoni to zingwangwa, from Nsanje to Chitipa, Mchinji to Nkhotakota. Beer is alive. Hey one more thing. If you are religious, you will enjoy churches pa flames.

  5. Patience says:

    Eni Akefe tapilira nthawi yayitali, tanyozedwa nthawi yayitali pano musings watiyankha. Kuyambila chaka chino Malawi ilemela moti sizinawonekenso. Otukwananu osadzabweranso zikayamba kutiyendela, Mukhale kuJoni Keanu konko

  6. mkamanga says:

    Nelly shaba

    You are so stupid,this shows that you have not been here south africa,SOWETO is not like ndirande its a nice and cool

  7. Benford says:

    It is not the only duty of government to create jobs,also you and me can create a job for fellow Malawians but the problem is, most of us, we study degrees, Masters, PHD that can not be a key for you to be enterpreanuer because we want white color job, eg financial accounting,Business management for what Malawians,go for civil engineering,Architect,electrical engineering,Mining, Agriculture,That is career gold of Malawi,guz.

  8. Lee Kachoka says:

    Democracy siimayenda ndi ndala ma zopatsidwa.Monga kuuza nza ko kuti kwatira,ndikupatsa ndala ma zoyendetsera banja lako.Zinga khale zoona?Kumene dimokalase inachokera,ndalama ndi zao,sizop empha.Tichangamuke.Ndale saad ya!

  9. John M says:

    If my Malawi would come to Kamuzu’s era. I would come back
    and stay at home! Malawi would ever! have God fearing leader.
    All we have are Thieves!!! From Bakili,Bingu,Joyce and Peter
    is Worst!!! That is why Malawi is very poor now!

  10. Bentrysmart says:

    Proverb 26:5 “Answer a fool according to his folly, 
    or he will be wise in his own eyes”
    we are having engineers, mechanics, chef, waiters, even doctors. so you better watch your ass before uttering shits. mind you they, don’t go and train there. so stop this nonsense you say ‘ bra bra, they are unskilled what what…..

  11. Bentrysmart says:

    you say those of us we are here, we are unskilled who told you, that’s bull shit men, its not all. you mean tizikhala mmenemo ntchito sizikupezeka, ikapezeka salary kungothera chakudya, ukagulako trouser nde kuti ana akhalila mphangwe the whole month, kulephera ndi kumanga nyumba komwe munthu oti Ali pa ntchito. akuchita kudikira imvi zituluke nipamene azizamanga nyumba. seriously inecngati nikufa nifera xeno koma uko njeeee.pa zaka 28 ndakhala uko palibe chazeru chapanga ine, hence let me spend the same here then I will be back. eya anthu amazolowera mavuto koma auko ine anandikwana…..

  12. nelly shaba says:

    So you are supporting these people to go back to south Africa why if Malawi is poor to that extent you should also go to south Africa, you want them to die in south Africa .south Africans in Soweto are also poor like Ndirande residents.go and see it for your self.

  13. toy b wakungodzi says:

    Don’t combine xenophobia and politics .Guys let’s think: do we really believe that,jobs can be created within three weeks for the of about one million?If we hate our leader,lets put it in that way our president has nothing to do with that shit.and anthu enanu mumasowa transport mutanva zoti boma latumiza mabasi inu tengekeni ngati zitsotso zam’mbali mwamadzi now u r blaming the government for not giving you jobs.likupatsani ntchito yanji anthu simunapite kuxool?kabwerani koma mudziwe zoti asilikali akupanga pelete pansana pa makwerekwere mwafunse anzanu kusoweto ndi durban chartsworth unit 2 musanabwere.

  14. Wina alila says says:

    No 26 You are absolutely right, There is nothing to live for in that God forsaken country called Malawi.The so called politicians are just thieves who really have no idea about running a country.

  15. Malaza says:

    That says a lot about the sad situation in Malawi. People would rather risk their lives in a foreign country than endure the unbearable life in their own country……… what a shame!

  16. mtubuka 1 says:

    Go Malawi is for dpp, no connection with dpp you will go hungry just go to a country where you can be employed without political connection if you know it’s gonna work for you.

  17. robert says:

    Tingowapempherera asiyeni azipita tiyeni tivomereze amalawi ziko lathu ndi lauphawi m’boma cashgate akuluakulu kuba ndiye wakumuzi ziyenda? Amalawi anayamba ndiliti kupita ku southAfrica ndikubwdzexwa boma limapanga chani,samaziwawa?

  18. Jk says:

    Kunena chilungamo anthu ambiri amene amene amabwera kuno ku south africa mwai amaupeza wa ndalama koma amaiwala kuti kuno nkwayeni tsiku lina azabwerera kwawo ndalama akungothera kuchindila ndi mowa ineyo ndilikonkuno ku south africa ndipo mwa anthu amene anathawa xenophobia ku durban ndi ochepa chabe amene zinawavuta kuti ku malawiko analibe chilichonse kapena anali atangofika xeno nkuyamba choncho boma likuluza ndalama kuthandiza anthu osafuna kuthandizika anthu kumamidzi akuzunzika chifukwa cha anthu opusa kunena chilungamo enawo angopezerapo mwai ndi xenophobia apeza pobisalira tsono ndiye kuno kwachematu akugwira kayaa

  19. OGA MUST HEAR THIS says:

    MALAWI
    WANGA
    NDIKUMATI
    ZIKO LA MKAKA NDI UCHI
    POMWE BOMA LIKU SEWELA NDI
    CHUMA CHAZIKO .

  20. Zanga Phee! says:

    It is not easy just go Home with government mouth piece politics were attached to that process can you imagine all the buses were from South Africa does it mean all bus companies in Malawi wouldn’t manage to bring back Malawians it does not make sense paying to those bus instead of promoting our local industry that’s why it will take time for Malawi to stand on its feet.See my name.

  21. mamwene says:

    Mwana akakamila fupa mulekele

  22. Mussa says:

    Mzoona omwe alibe skill ndomwe a ku be lero koma sionse value ya ndalama I ku ten gansombali

  23. gladstone kaka says:

    There is nothing worthwhile to live for in Malawi.Malawi is very poor country to live with no opportunities.To do well you have to be in politics or you should be stealing at your working place otherwise there is nothing to live for in Malawi.Even to do business you have to be connected to politicians to win contract in the civil service.It is a very useless country led by thieves masquerading as politicians.

  24. nkrumah says:

    It’s not the duty of government alone to create job but also NGOs . NGOs are useless institutions full of thieves and robbers

  25. William Dodoma says:

    Let them go. They have indeed weighed the options!

  26. Julie says:

    Community collague is another thing, and job creation is another! What our leaders knw is to suck those who dont clap hands for them, but they dont knw how to create job. When someone has finished school, he needs to be employed, that way the gvt can collect tax that man got paid, and he can buy some furniture frm the craftmen, but we all cant do business, who will buy frm another. The first democratic leader blundered by selling 68 gvt industries whch were employing many people at once under the guidance of the so called IMF and World Bank reformes whch never yield gud results to the nation, and the current gvt is doing the same by selling the K48billion MSB Bank for K6.5bn at the expence of the workers and the rural masses who were benefiting frm the same, shame to us! Killing many, and letting our cronies to be billionaries! May God help Malawi

  27. Julie says:

    Community collague is another thing, and job creation is another! What our leaders knw is to suck those who dont clap hands for them, but they dont knw how to create job. When someone has finished school, he needs to be employed, that way the gvt can collect tax that man got paid, and he can buy some furniture frm the craftmen, but we all cant do business, who will buy frm another. The first democratic leader blundered by selling 68 gvt industries whch were employing many people at once under the guidance of the so called IMF and World Bank reformes whch never yield gud results to the nation, and the current gvt is doing the same by selling the K48billion MSB Bank for K6.5bn at the expence of the workers and the rural masses who were benefiting frm the same, shame to us! Killing many, and letting our cronies to be billionaries!

  28. madàlitso says:

    Shame

  29. Egoli ndombwile says:

    Abo bakukhumba kuluta balekani balute. Kuno kumalawi nkhaza zinandi kujumpha ku SASAFILIKA.

  30. Mapiri says:

    Life in South Africa is good. There are so many opportunities. That is why people rush there. Money is easy to get. U can do piece work and earn R200 (K8000 per day). Food is also cheap. Even their cities are clean. Lilongwe and Blantyre too dusty. Xenophobia is now under control. The only threat that is there is deportation. Govt is now rounding up illegal immigrants.

  31. Njalayamalamuchiuno says:

    Migration problems are indeed multidimentional and call for a Regional solution. Countries have to strive at creating suitable political, social and economic conditions that can make citizens have a home feeling and sustain their contribution to the country’s development. Putting all our hopes on community colleges, as a cureall for unemployment woes is not a safe path, though it is part of the solution. The graduates from these colleges will require a conducive economic environment to be fully absorbed and let alone find a market for their produce. Nevertheless, those who were repatriated and are returning are doing so at owner’s risk. The Government, at least, tried to fulfill its obligation of caring for its citizens. Here it is survival of the fittest and they need to exercise patience.

  32. zuze says:

    I don’t blame this guys retaining to RSA …things are quite bad on malawi yes many of them don’t have skills and experience in any grounds but there are many suffering within our borders with all the skills and degrees …just elke any country some manages,some survives and some suffers …if these people find peace and refuge in RAS,then let the two government work together to find a better solution…let’s not point fingers,ngati wena zikuyenda kumalawi akhale,amenenso akupeza ku joni,let them be

  33. osman usu justin says:

    MMmmmmmmmmm comment loadig……

  34. Kadakwiza says:

    At Chekambewa, or Cheka whatever you Cheka. Let me tell you my brother, Malawians are not only in South Africa, but are all over the world. Looking for everything, like jobs, food, education. Malawians are not emigrating but are running out of the country. All because of poverty. Malawi is very poor my brother. Our country hadn’t improved as economy is concerned. Kamuzu Banda tried but not much. When Bakili Muluzi took over government he made our economy worse. Many manufacturing companies left Malawi for other countries. All because of Bakili Muluzi and his Useless UDF. Today Malawians are suffering because of useless leadership of UDF. Then came Bingu Muthalika, a crook. He just finished us all. Useless president and his DPP. In 2006 all Malawi debt were forgiven by World Bank and the IMF, where is that money $2billion? What Bingu and his DPP did was just fooled us Malawians by fertilizer coupons. What a shame. Today his brother Peter, what he can us Malawians is a traveling passport. The rest everyone will see what he/she will do with that passport. There is no jobs in Malawi. No one is happy in a foreign country. But for us Malawians in particular, I don’t know if we have any choice. Malawians are all over the world because they want to survive. So Mr Chekambewa just keep quiet.

  35. zoona says:

    Agwidwe atsekeledwe amenewo. We cant waste our money kuwabweretsa kuno for nothing. That is theft!!!

  36. Wanganyewanganye mtumbuka says:

    Enawo olo ndi JCE yomwe alibe ndie ntchito ayipeza yanji? Asiyeni apite azikamwa mowa ndi kuchinda mahule osamba. A boma ayesesa. Vuto anthuwa amakomedwa amaiwala mavuto ammbuyo. Ndalama amapeza koma sakumukira kumudzi. Ine cousin wanga anasiya mkaz ndi ana atatu pano 5yrs sanabwerepo chithandizo anasiyanso kutumiza. Kaya!!!

  37. mo says:

    Let them go back, this time around no need to use our hard earned money to bring them back, if one politician try to bring them back I will consult ndani uyu wapa mulanje Mp wa comedy?those guyz did not vote why are these politicians busy with them?let them go

  38. willie says:

    The government must redirecting the money to other business issues rather than “zopusazo”

  39. Ineeeeeeeoooooooo says:

    Kkkkk kodi ntchitoyo ingaperekedwe tsiku limodzi???????? Pitan akakutenthan zanu izo!!!!!! Boma lisawakatengeso dis tym!!!!!!!!

  40. Kaunga says:

    Pls Malawi president do something to help those Malawians who return frm sour africa

  41. mulopwana says:

    the problem with Malawi is ;even if you have good papers and experience you
    can’t get employment if you are not connected with someone higher or politician.
    Stupid Malawi,it is good indeed to die trying than being fooled by stupid politicians

  42. Disco Mwenilondo says:

    Civil awareness needed to be inculcated in the minds of those who are thinking of going back to South Africa. When the government mentioned that Community Colleges would alleviate some of the bottlenecks experienced, they didn’t imply that this was going to happen with a click of the finger. First of all you need to be enrolled into those colleges, study then graduate and later the government will provide the soft loans being talked about. Let those who want to go go ahead but shouldn’t cry when they begin being treated like animals when in South Africa. The government has done its part, aliyense adzionera yekha ngati akufuna kubwerera. Kuzolowera zaulere nthawi zonse basi.

  43. BJ says:

    Poverty is a big problem in our country,shame for the government for not provide work to the citizens.

  44. ujeni says:

    Malawi dont have good role models, if we hard, these people would aspire to be like them but alas all we got are thugs. Musova

  45. ujeni says:

    How can community colleges create employment for graduating students? This is total stupid thinking by DPP government. How can that be. Malawian leadership always thinking in theory and not practical.

    If we have mines people would be employed right here and Malawi would be developing. If we had manufacturing industries, construction undustries eg people wouldn’t bother to go to South Africa. We have nothing in Malawi only Sanjika and Kamuzu palace basi.

  46. shaaaa! says:

    high levels of illiteracy and ulesi pitani. may your soul rest in piece before u die

  47. Chekambewa says:

    useless animals let them go akawayase ndi matayara koma osakawatenganso akayamba kuwatemtha ngati mbewa

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