‘We are segregated’ – The Times Group Malawi

Post was last updated: January 30, 2020

Malawian businessmen of Asian origin have complained that they are being left out in the empowerment of local businesses to enjoy 60 percent of the government business.

This comes against the implementation of section 44 of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA) Act of 2017 on July 1, 2019.

The Section states that; a procuring entity from government shall ensure prioritisation of all bids submitted to give preference to 60 percent indigenous black Malawians and 40 percent others for national competitive bidding.

During an interface with the Parliamentary Committee on Industry Trade and Tourism in Blantyre on Wednesday, a group of Malawian business captains of Asian origin lamented the inclusion of the word ‘black’ in the section.

The say inclusion of the word is unfair to the Asian origin business community.

They argue that they are doing business in the country and have been doing so for generations hence the need to be considered Malawians despite their skin colour.

They further told the committee that they suffer harassment at the hands of officials from various government departments such as Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA), Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS) and Immigration for no apparent reason.

The group further bemoaned duplicated licenses and fees by city councils which affect the cost of doing business.

A representative of the group who read a prepared statement to the committee, Rafiq Hajat, added that there appears to be double standards being applied for Malawians and non-Malawians.

“There is segregation in terms of indigenous Malawians and non-indigenous Malawians. There are all kinds of limitations that apply if you are deemed to be a non-indigenous Malawian now my family came here in 1870 a 150 years ago, I was born at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in 1955 now you tell me what is the difference between you and me.

“What we are saying is these lines of separation are actually thoughts and they do not work to the benefit of the country instead they work against it so as a well-meaning Malawian I say let us be colour blind and let’s look at the persons merit,” Hajat said.

Chairperson of the committee, Simplex Banda, said the interface is a starting point of soliciting views on how the environment can be improved to enhance business operations and grow the economy.

“We will analyse the issues raised and see how best we can move forward. Obviously we will be engaging some of the key stakeholders mentioned most of which we have already arranged meetings with and later we are going to organise a meeting between the Asian community and all these stakeholder,” Banda said.

Among other things the meeting discussed continued power outages affecting production, the welfare of employees in businesses and companies owned by the Aisian community, and unrealistic taxes which burden production let alone the end consumer.

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