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Concerns Raised Over Chinese Nationals’ Employment Permits in Chikwawa District, Malawi

The Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) has submitted an appeal to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services, raising concerns about the employment permits issued to Chinese nationals working for Sino Hydro in Chikwawa District, Malawi.

In a letter addressed to General Charles Kalumo, the Director General of the Department, Sylvester Namiwa, the Executive Director of CDEDI, highlighted several issues regarding the employment of Chinese nationals on the Shire Valley Transformation Programme. The appeal, dated September 29, 2023, calls for a thorough review of the permits granted to these foreign workers.

One of the primary concerns raised in the appeal is the evident language barrier between the Chinese workers and the local community. CDEDI provided an attached video clip captured at the Sino Hydro campsite in Chikwawa District, where the scene appeared to be chaotic due to communication difficulties. 

The Chinese nationals were reported to be unable to speak English or Chichewa, while the local residents could not communicate in Chinese.

CDEDI cited Section 4 of the Immigration Act, specifically subsection 1(b), which addresses prohibited immigrants based on their ability to read and write a prescribed language to the satisfaction of an immigration officer. 

The organization questioned whether due diligence was exercised in the vetting process before the issuance of temporary employment permits to these Chinese nationals.

Furthermore, CDEDI expressed suspicions about the roles some of these foreign workers were performing, such as fuel attendants, welders, and general mechanics. 

These positions are typically reserved for local workers, and CDEDI raised concerns that the job descriptions may not accurately reflect what was indicated in the workers’ permit applications.

In light of these concerns and in accordance with the Access To Information Act (ATI), CDEDI has demanded a public vetting and review of all the permits issued to Chinese nationals working on the Shire Valley Transformation Programme within the next fourteen (14) days.

The appeal has raised questions about the vetting process for foreign workers and the need for transparency and compliance with immigration regulations. 

It remains to be seen how the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services will respond to CDEDI’s request and address the concerns raised regarding the Chinese nationals’ employment permits in Chikwawa District. This issue is likely to garner significant attention in the coming days as the review process unfolds.

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