Malawi plans to send 100,000 of its young people to work in South Korea as one of the Joyce Banda administration’s moves to ease unemployment and reduce poverty in the southern African country, a senior minister has disclosed.
“We will start with 360 young men and women who will be going to South Korea very soon but the whole programme targets up to 100,000 people,” said Labour Minister Eunice Makangala.
Makangala said the programme targeted youth between the ages of 18 and 25 years, indicating that the first batch includes 200 males and 160 females.
She said most of them will work as unskilled labour factories and farms.
However, the scheme has been met with skepticism with some analysts calling it “modern day slavery”. Others cite unsavoury reports that expose how immigrant workers are mistreated, underpaid and even raped in the Asian country.
Malawi Congress of Trade Unions (MCTU) Secretary General Pontius Kalichero accused the Banda administration of not consulting enough about the programme.
“There should have been proper consultations and studies, ” he said. “Without proper consultation, exported labour force can easily be abused.”
But Makangala said that Lilongwe and Seoul had signed an agreement and the Malawi labour and security officials will open offices in South Korea to oversee the programme which will initially run for four years and 10 months.
“There are 16 countries that are on a mission like ours in South Korea,” she said.
Makangala also dismissed fears that the Malawian youth may be caught up in the simmering tension in the Korean peninsula.
“South Korea and North Korea have been in wrangles for a long time. I personally went there to see the situation for myself, our countrymen will be safe,” she said.
President Joyce Banda, who negotiated the labor export deal during her visit to South Korea in February this year, said she had also negotiated similar labour export deals with Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.