Chakwera announced the waiver in the National Assembly on Friday when he delivered his State of the Nation Address (SONA) to mark the first meeting of the 50th Session of the Parliament of Malawi and the 2023-2024 National Budget.
The President said the waiving, which is with immediate effect, will apply to nationals from key tourism markets such as the United Kingdom, United States of America, the Netherlands, Germany, Australia, Belgium, Italy, France, Poland and Nordic Countries, which include Norway, Finland and Sweden.
The visa waiver also extends to future markets such as China, Russia, and Canada
Chakwera said the waiving of the visa fees is aimed at maximizing tourism potential and increase its contribution to Malawi’s gross domestic product (GDP) and forex generation.
In reaction to the development, Mwakasungula described the waiver as a good development.
He, however, asked the government to also look “at more improving regional and continental integration by waiving visa fee to SADC and African countries for more investments and trade”.
Describing the SONA as a mixed bag, the renowned human rights activist said Malawians should still have trust that thing will improve for the better.
“The SONA was a mixed bag once again with the State President trying to outline what his government is doing and planning to do to make Malawi a better place for all. It was a mixed bag in the sense that it gave hope and uncertainty at the same time. But I noted plans which government is embarking on for socio economic development to help uplift the wellbeing of Malawians. But all in all, the SONA gave more hope that even though we have national challenges all is not lost,” he said.
Mwakasungula, who hitherto had asked President Chakwera to utilize the event to reaffirm his government’s commitment to the fight against corruption, said he was pleased to hear the President committing his renewed resolve in the fight against corruption by pushing for the Special Court to speedy deal with corruption cases and by appealing to the courts to put this as a priority.
On education, Mwakasungula commended the government education reform program and construction of more school blocks. He added that the increase of enrollment for tertiary education is important, but emphasized the need for the government to put in place outlet measures to absorb new graduates as part of job creation.
”Government must explore and expand more on TEVETA programmes. The inclusion of Mbombela University in government plans is a welcome development and more pleasing to the people of the north who have always felt the university project was just a campaign project,” he said.