Malawians living in South Africa are facing starvation and lack of medicine, among other things due to the prolonged coronavirus lockdown.
Most of the Malawians suffering went to South Africa to do piece work jobs and live in squatter areas.
Some well to do Malawians have “adopted” the poor Malawian families on temporary basis to ease the situation but are calling on the government of Malawi to come in.
The stranded poor Malawians are literally destitute as they live on hand-outs.
The Cyril Ramaphosa administration announced on Thursday that as it transitions to level four of the ‘national coronavirus alert’ the government will continue to provide basic needs only to South Africans citizens and not foreigners.
The Malawians are now asking the government of Malawi to repatriate them to Malawi as life in South Africa under the lockdown is unbearable.
Principal Secretary in the ministry of Foreign Affairs Ben Botolo said the government is working with the International Organization on Migration on the matter.
He said the government is faced with a complicated situation as regards Malawians that are suffering in South Africa.
Botolo said such is the case because a majority of such Malawians are undocumented and that they used uncharted procedures to get to the Rainbow Nation.
“It is a complicated state of affairs. It is very difficult to clear most of those since they are illegal immigrants. In the interim, we are writing the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to assist them with food and basic needs as we explore on avenues to come to their rescue,” Botolo said.
Asked on the projected resources that the ministry will inject into the exercise of repatriating and setting up of quarantine centres for those that will be brought back home, Botolo said the crisis in question is beyond the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has taught us lessons. Because, as we speak, we do not have facilities to keep such a huge community should it be brought back into the country. So looking at the issue of quarantine centres, their upkeep and health needs, we are working with all the responsible departments but it will not be a one-day thing I must say. Our hope is in the IOM,” he added.
According to Botolo, the Malawian population in South Africa is close to 900,000 which he said is double the country’s civil service hence the government’s dilemma.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :