Malawian students who are pursuing masters’ degrees in various fields in China have accused the Malawi government of favoritism in the distribution and provision of relief assistance to learners who have been affected by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic in the diaspora.
The students have since written the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, through the Secretary to the Treasury, expressing their discontent with how Malawians in China government is handling the students’ relief fund.
“It is with great excitement that we note that our government showed concern over the plight of students studying outside Malawi, especially in countries greatly affected with Covid-19 pandemic.
“Just as many African countries took a swift intervention to relieve the economic effects on social and physiological wellbeing of their citizens overseas, we would like to commend our government for doing the same,” opens the scathing letter addressed to the Secretary to the Treasury.
The letter, which is dated May 16 2020, has been copied to the co-chairperson of the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19, the Malawian Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, chairperson of Presidential task force on Covid-19, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Human Rights Defenders’ Coalition (HRDC) and Parliamentary Committee on Education.
The students say since the China is a cashless economy, it has been difficult for foreign students to access basic needs when China has been on lockdown.
They say while some of the students travelled back to Malawi, a number of them stayed put “because we selflessly thought of not infecting our country with imported cases”.
“We thought we were doing a service of responsibility guided by patriotism to our own nation by offering ourselves as sacrificial lambs on the altar,” reads the letter in part.
They say it was, therefore, confusing to discover that much as the registered students in China are not as many as 300 and that those in Wuhan are not more than 60, the sum of money (K128 million), reported to have been used to help concerned students, does not add up.
The students allege that less than 60 students benefitted from the fund against a bigger number of the scholars that submitted data to the Embassy in anticipation of “a fair help”.
One of the students, speaking through a WeChat from Wuhan in China on Tuesday night, said statement from the Minister of Finance, Joseph Mwanamvekha, made the situation worse as it portrayed the students as crooked to their parents who thought they had received assistance from government when it was not the case.
“We would have appreciated if the help to alleviate the financial plight faced by students in China reached every student who have been here in China since the outbreak was noted to the present day of writing this communication and not doing it as selectively as it appears.
“We are not even convinced of the selection criterion used to identify the current beneficiaries as we discovered that other students from other countries are equally complaining about this,” he said.
Another student, who is based in Beijing, alleged that major beneficiaries of the students relief fund have been wards of Cabinet ministers and others who are connected to politicians in government.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :