By Chawezi Banda
President Dr Lazarus Chakwera has assured Malawians living in the United States of America of his total support on issues they consider important for them to make a meaningful contribution to the country.
Among other issues, expensive visa processing fees, dual citizenship and easy access to Malawi national identity cards are the ones Malawians in the US want the government to resolve.
“When we want to renew our visas and passports, we have to travel to Malawi because the embassy here cannot do them for us. We ask the government to consider these issues for us to make a positive contribution to our country,” said Professor Linda Semu, a representative of the US-Malawi Diaspora Network and the Malawi-Washington Foundation.
The President engaged the group in a question and answer session and several issues surfaced. In his response, Dr Chakwera challenged the Malawians that they are all ambassadors of Malawi to the USA and as such, they need to demonstrate the spirit of hard work and patriotism by remembering their home country in everything they do.
“Nobody will come to develop our country. If we don’t do it ourselves, nobody will,” said Dr Chakwera.
He, therefore, gave assurances to the audience that his government is ready to iron out all challenges Malawians are facing abroad, with an immediate pledge to the Canadian diaspora that wants the Malawi Government to reopen the embassy in Ottawa, Canada so that they stop relying on Washington DC.
“There are already offices there and all we need to do is to look at what is required to reopen the embassy in Ottawa and right now the minister of foreign affairs has all the details on what is being done to that effect,” said Chakwera.
The Malawi leader is in Washington DC to sign the second Millennium Challenge Corporation compact which will give Malawi $350 million for the construction of roads in Malawi to link farmers’ produce and markets across the country. The compact comes after Malawi satisfied a set of prerequisites demanded by the US Government to qualify for the compact.
The meeting which was part of the President’s activities was attended by over 110 Malawians from across USA and Canada and tackled a cross-section of issues including land ownership, investment in mega-farms, corruption, dual citizenship, visa and passport processing among other agendas.