CHOMBA MUSIKA, Lusaka
MINISTER of Home Affairs Stephen Kampyongo has urged chief immigration officers in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern
Africa (COMESA) to conduct research which will help demystify the negative social norms some African countries have about immigrants.
Mr Kampyongo said governments in the COMESA region need to investigate and interrogate the merits and demerits of migration in Africa to implement sound migration policies that will help revamp economies on the continent.
He said this in Lusaka yesterday when he officially opened the migration dialogue for COMESA member states.
Mr Kampyongo said COMESA governments need to overcome the fear of free movement of people in the region and learn from the experiences of migration within members states.
He said literature indicates that migrants are more determined and hardworking by taking up whatever work they find in host countries unlike the natives.
Mr Kampyongo said migrants help grow host economies.
“Most people migrate in order to improve the well-being of their families and communities around them. Migration therefore benefits the sending and receiving countries in the long term and is essential to human development,” he said.
Mr Kampyongo, however, said migration comes with its own challenges such as security concerns, especially trans-national crimes ranging from money laundering to promotion of trade in illicit drugs and human beings.
“The security threats that may accompany free movement of people can be managed by simply making appropriate investments in our security institutions based on research and empirical evidence,” he said.
He called on COMESA to consider increasing budgetary allocation for collection and analysing data on migration to develop policies that counter anti-migration.
And COMESA secretary general Sindiso Ngwenya commended Zambia for hosting regional meetings in a peaceful and friendly environment.
Mr Ngwenya said in a speech read for him by his assistant, Kipyego Chelgut, that free movement of citizens in COMESA member states has been hampered by bureaucracy and lack of ratification of COMESA protocols on free movement of people.
International Organisation for Migration regional director for Southern Africa Charles Kwenin said the meeting was timely because migration has become an internationally important and inevitable socio-economic and political topic.