Malawi Economic Justice Network (MEJN) has welcomed a proposal from Malawi President Dr Lazarus Chakwera regarding free movement of people between the three countries of Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi.
President Chakwera while addressing mammoth gathering at this year Kulamba ceremony on Saturday, asked the three countries of Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia to resolve to work together in creating structures and systems to promote free movement of people, goods and services among them.
The Kulamba Ceremony was held at Mkaika, Katete District in Zambia.
The Malawi leader said the three countries should move towards making citizens of these countries travel in each other’s country without passports saying this would foster development among the nations.
“We gather today to celebrate the Chewa cultural heritage, we should therefore reflect on what values our culture and our King, Kalonga Gawa Undi, teach us to promote across the nations.
“These values include education and sustainable socio-economic development, as well as cultural reform that seek to cure our tradition of such harmful practices such as Chokolo and Mwambo wa Fisi, which we know to be dehumanising and detrimental to our well-being,” Chakwera said.
Commenting on this call, MEJN executive director Bertha Phiri said the call by the president speaks well with the *advocacy work MEJN has been advancing around the African Free Continental Trade Area AfCTA* that countries should be allowed free movements.
Phiri said Malawi is known to be an economy driven by small and medium enterprise comprising of 1.6 million people involved in small and medium enterprise.
“*There is alot of cross boarder movements that happen.* Agro commodities in boarder areas like Tsangano just to mention a few and these are small scale businesses that need financing of their businesses for growth*
“In the course of doing business these people have to move to cross boarders. So free movement of people between the three countries will help boast financing of small scale business since the arrangement will help to save time,” said Phiri.
She added: “SMEs sector employs *more than* 1.8 Million people and currently there are 1.6 Million people involved in SMEs so economically the arrangement is a plus to the country.”
MEJN is a coalition of civil society organisations, which have activities in the field of economic governance. Its core purpose is to create partnerships that will ensure that government policies and actions are of direct benefit to the poor.
MEJN also aims at creating sustainability in the civil society organisations to effectively conduct their activities in promoting the welfare of the people.
It’s overall goal is to ensure that government economic policies and strategies are pro-poor and impact on reducing the poverty of Malawians.
MEJN has been working to restore economic discipline by giving professional advise.
For example in its paper ‘How to make trade work for poor people in Malawi’, MEJN says it is particularly concerned with the signing of an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and whether this will hinder, or contribute to Malawi’s development.
MEJN argued that Malawi together with a number of other Eastern and Southern African (ESA) countries, is currently re-negotiating its trade relationship with the EU which will lead to the signing of the EPA.
The EPA requires ESA countries to provide some degree of reciprocal access to EU imports in return for maintaining preferential access to European markets.
Stakeholders, in particular, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), registered scepticism and concern on the scope and depth of the impact that these agreements will have on Africa throughout the negotiations.
Other groups in Malawi, including the private sector, fear the force of potential incoming goods from the EU, which may be more competitive than their own due to the un-level playing field that exists between the two parties.