Emeritus Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu has commended President Hakainde Hichilema for
approving a national refugee policy and has supported calls for granting citizenship to refugees in
line with Article 37 of the Constitution of Zambia.Archbishop Mpundu commends Hichilema over refugee policy
In a media statement, the former Archbishop says more can and should be done under our current
legal framework to address the legal status of refugees in Zambia.He said refugees are an embodiment of ‘strangers’ to whom Jesus referred in Matthew 25:35-40.
“It deeply concerns me that the current Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security, Hon. Jack
Mwiimbu, has not taken steps in the last two years to invoke Section 49 of the Refugees Act,
2017” says Archbishop Mpundu.
He said the failure by Minister of Home Affairs to discharge the mandate to naturalise refugees
who qualify for Zambian citizenship is reflection of a lack of political will and missed opportunity
to conclusively address the refugee issue through existing legal channels.
He said granting citizenship to refugees who meet the legal requirements aligns with Zambia’s
commitment to human rights and will harness their skills to contribute to our country's
“Denying refugees and their children, who have known no other home but Zambia, the
opportunity to obtain citizenship renders them stateless – an inherently inhumane situation that we
must rectify,” he said.
Meanwhile, the former Archbishop has cautioned President Hichilema regarding any reckless
decisions regarding the repatriation of refugees to Rwanda.
“While I acknowledge the concerns raised by President Paul Kagame, we must recognize that
individuals accused of committing genocide were tried in the Arusha Court on Rwandan genocide,
a process completed with Zambia’s cooperation,” he said
Archbishop Mpundu has instead implored President Hichilema to transfer remaining perpetrators
of genocide, if there are any who were not tried in Arusha, to Geneva or another neutral country in
Europe or the USA where they can receive a fair and impartial trial in accordance with
Zambia is currently a home to an estimated total of 89,100 refugees out of which 17,305 former
refugees and their children who have been declared stateless by virtue of the cessation clause
declared in 2013 and have lived in Zambia for 30 years.