16 November 2016

Malawi: Minister Chiumia Humiliated in Karonga - Threatens to Deal With Protestors On Relocation of Refugee Camp

Photo: Brian Dell
Lilongwe (file photo).

Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security Grace Chiumia was humiliated in Karonga by the residents after threatening to deal with the youths who are planning to protest against the reallocation of Zaleka refugees camp to Katili area in the district.

Government wants to relocate a refugee camp from Dzaleka in Dowa to Katili in Traditional Authority (T/A) Kyungu in Karonga.

The minister was frustrated when she met strong opposition against the project during a consultative meeting held at Karonga District Commissoner's chamber on Monday.

Speaking during the meeting, Chiumia warned to meet with the protesters on the road as the responsible minister of security.

"I received a phone call from the leader of the protesters that government should expect massive demonstration than what happened during 20 July, 2011," said Chiumia.

"However, let me warn you that you will meet me together with security personnel on the road. And therefore my advise is that if you have such power use it to develop your area," she added.

The speech angered the community who described it as undemocratic.

"Don't threaten us, section 38 of our constitution allows everyone to conduct a peaceful demonstration. It has shown that you are a dictator but you will not defeat us because we know our rights," retorted one of the activist Gannett Kamwambi, a lawyer by professional.

Karonga youth for Justice and Development executive director Steven Simsokwe, who is also the leader of the demonstrators said: "As the youth activist I will not be intimidated when it comes to exercising my constitutional rights."

Chiumia said the decision to relocate the refugee camp follows a concern by government that the camp at Dzaleka was near Lilongwe, the capital city, a development that compromises the country's security.

"Malawi is one of a few countries in Africa that has a refugee camp close to the capital city, a development that raised fear on the security of the nation. Government decided to relocate the camp to a border district where most of the refugees pass through," she said.

Chiumia assured the people of Karonga that the process is beneficial because water points and school blocks will be constructed and Katili Health Centre rehabilitated.

"Why not reallocating it to other districts? Is our Karonga a damping side? We shall indeed demonstrate if you continue with your ill decision,"Simsokwe said.

The community who include MP Frank Mwenefumbo, former deputy minister of economic Dr Cornelius Mwalwanda, former Ambassador Greenwel Mwamindwe and Dr Du Mhango among others vehemently rubbished the decision saying "No to Karonga."

About 27 000 refugees will be transferred from Dzaleka to Katili which lies north west of Karonga, about 15 kilometres away from the boma.


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