Malawi insists South Korea labour export is done deal

Malawi government has maintained that it agreed to enter into a pact with the government of South Korea to allow up to 100,000 Malawian youth to work in the Asian economic powerhouse.

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.

However, Malawi Government spokesperson Moses Kunkuyu has said President Joyce Banda entered into the deal during a visit to Seoul in February.

Kunkuyu: Deal sealed
Kunkuyu: Deal sealed

He insisted the programme was formalised and will go ahead.

“The President travelled to South Korea, so did the Minister of Labour [Eunice Makangala]. We did the advertising, the short-listing and the interviewing. All these processes could not have happened without a basis. The President could not have launched this and said what she said.

“As for the comments from the said South Korean official, they do not come as a surprise. Locally, people have been making noise, saying South Korea is a war zone, that it treats immigrants as slaves. If Malawi was importing labour and someone said we were bad, what would we do?” said Kunkuyu.

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.

Labour Minister Eunice Makangala dismissed the claims of ‘modern-day slavery’ despite a report by Amnesty International  pointing out that  migrant workers in South Korea are treated like slaves.

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