Malawi government has explained that there is no legally binding deal with South Korea to allow up to 100,000 Malawian youth to work in the Asian economic powerhouse but that two countries will soon sign the dotted lines to the pact.
Principal Secretary in the ministry of labour, Wezi Kayira said government has only applied for the jobs in South Korea and that discussions are in progress to seal the labour export deal.
“What we have done is applying and then waiting for the jobs,” said Kayira, a former Director of Public Prosecution.
“There are some technical processes that we are following like getting passports, visas, work permits and finding out what the working conditions are,” he said.
He expressed optimism that the agreement will be made formally “and people will go”.
Kayira’s comments are in sharp contrast to remarks by Minister of Inofrmation Moses Kunkuyu and Labour Minister Eunice Makangala who claimed Malawi agreed to enter into a pact with the government of South Korea.
Makangala and Kunkuyu said President Joyce Banda entered into the deal during a visit to Seoul in February.
Director at the Africa Division of South Korea’s foreign affairs ministry in Seoul, Moon Sung Hwan told Bloomberg on Friday that Seoul currently has no plans to add Malawi to the list of 15 countries from which it imports labor.
“Our government has not received any official request from Malawi that they want to send their workers to our country,” Moon Sung Hwan.
The Malawian workers would remain in South Korea for a period of four years, with the option of extending their terms of employment.
They would receive a monthly allowance of 450,000 Kwacha including free housing, electricity and some basic necessities, according to the ruling People’s Party (PP).
However, the labour deal – whether true or not – elicited criticism from opposition MPs in Malawi, who likened it to a form of “slavery.”
“We always cry about brain-drain and encourage Malawians in the Diaspora to come back home and yet here we are exporting the cream of our labor force abroad. It doesn’t make sense at all,” Steven Kamwendo of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) told parliament earlier this week.