Traditional leaders in the area of Paramount Chief Chikulamayembe in Rumphi hope the National Registration and Identification System, NRIS, the government of Malawi is implementing will help to flash out illegal immigrants.
Forty-eight years after independence, Malawians still cannot identify themselves with a valid national document for citizens because there has been no national registration and identification system since the end of the British colonial rule.
This has led to foreigners in some parts of the country enjoying economic benefits at the expense of locals leading to conflicts with locals.
Paramount chief Chikulamayembe told the media that being a border district; Rumphi is not exceptional to the problem.
“The problem is because of the intermarriages that are taking place. When these foreigners learn one or two Tumbuka words they claim to be Malawians”, he said.
The paramount chief of the Tumbuka, a tribe dominant in northern Malawi, claimed some immigrants have acquired licenses for production of the most lucrative cash crop tobacco at the expense of locals.
Several Village heads agreed with the Themba la Themba Chikulamayembe that the influx of illegal immigrants is disturbing farming, trade and social life in Rumphi.
“There are a lot of foreigners who are coming here. Some of them have married our daughters; some of them have married our sisters. And in so doing genetically their children will follow the genes of their parents from Burundi, Somalia…Ethiopia”, said group village headman Kayiwale Chirambo.
“This is why we need to have drastic measures to control these things before it is too late”, he said.
Paramount Chikulamayembe thinks the problem caused by the country’s porous borders will be minimized once the NRIS is fully operational.
“We believe with the coming of national registration we will be rescued. Land will be enough for us because the locals will have a bigger share than the foreigners”, the chief explained.
He said the expectation among the locals is that the system will help in ensuring that all foreigners undergo all necessary processes before they engage in enterprising.
Being the only state that has no NRIS in Southern Africa, Malawi is currently implementing phase of the programme involving registration of bonafide citizens in village registers.
All citizens must register in their original home village to be considered for the second phase in which mobile vans will be used for mass image capturing and production of IDs and Berth Certificates.