Lusaka, Friday, July 28, 2017: The full integration of the economies of Eastern and Southern Africa will be realized if it is accompanied by the free movement of people in the region. According to the Minster for Home Affairs of Zambia Hon. Stephen Kampyongo, the fear of migrants was holding back the gains of social and economic integration that come through free movement of people.

Speaking during the Regional Consultative Process (RCP) meeting for COMESA Member States; Migration Dialogue for COMESA Member States (MIDCOM) Friday July 28, 2017, the Minister said inherent security fears such as transnational crimes can be managed by investing in security institutions based on research and empirical evidence.

“We have in the world today adequate knowledge and technologies to manage migration without undermining our security and safety of migrants,” the Minister said noting that free movement of goods, capital and services have moved far ahead of the free movement of people owing to uncertainty in the minds of ordinary people and in the planning of governments.

He said that countries will overcome their fear of migrants if they learn the dynamics of migration.
“People move to places where they perceive and realize improvements in their lives. Migrants are therefore people determined to work and succeed. Contrary to popular beliefs and opinions, migrants give more to the host communities than they receive.

Noting that migrants take up whatever work they can find unlike members of the host communities, the Minister said they help their host economies expand and grow. Minister Kampyongo urged COMESA countries to put more resources in collecting and analyzing data on migration to counter anti-migration attitude.

The MIDCOM meeting took place the COMESA Secretariat in Lusaka and was attended by delegates from COMESA Member States, diplomatic corps and development partners. It was organized by COMESA and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

In his address, Mr. Charles Kwenin, the IOM Regional Director for Southern Africa said the regional consultative forums have provide platforms for common understanding and policy coherence. They play a vital role in shaping migration management and governance priorities among countries within a regional block and within the regional integration process.

“IOM has provided support to at least eleven COMESA Member States to develop Migration Profiles, which serve to provide a comprehensive overview of the migratory dynamic and realities and can provide the necessary information to inform evidence based policy making,” Mr Kwenin said.

Assistant Secretary General of COMESA Dr Kipyego Cheluget called upon Member States to sign and ratify the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, Services, Labour and Right of Establishment.

“Without ratifying the Protocols on Free Movement and implementation of Council Decision, there really is not free movement of people or process to talk about,” Ambassador Cheluget said.