It is Embarrassing. The Malawi government has shortlisted, interviewed and identified the 100,000 Malawians it wanted to send to South Korea, but South Korea says it doesn't know of any incoming Malawians.
Moon Sung Hwan, director at the Africa Division of South Korea's foreign affairs ministry told Bloomberg BusinessWeek that his government has not received any official request from Malawi on the issue.
The Koreans were reacting to a BBC story in which the minister of labour Eunice Makangala confirmed that there is a deal between the two countries, a deal which would see a 100,000 young Malawians being exported to Korea as migrant workers.
But the Malawi government Spokesperson, minister of information and Member of Parliament for Blantyre south, Moses Kunkuyu, insist there is a deal.
“The president travelled to South Korea, so did minister of labour. We did the advertising, the shortlisting 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, the 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.
There have been media reports criticising the deal by highlighting the Amnesty International report which alleged that migrant workers in South Korea are treated like slaves, opposition MPs have also doubted the deal and dubbed it slavery.
Kunkuyu said Malawi is going ahead to prepare the people for the exercise. He said tomorrow people expected to be sent to Kuwait on a similar exercise are going to start orientations and those going to Dubai will follow.
President Joyce Banda's Spokesperson, Steven Nhlane, when asked in an email interview to explain the discrepancy in Joyce Banda's statements and those coming from South Korea referred me to a David Yun, at the Malawi Honorary Consul General to South Korea. Nhlane said Yun is the one who has been facilitating the deal.
I could not manage to get hold of the said Yun.
My theory? Seoul knows of the deal but hates the bad publicity. My verdict: let the youths go to Korea, they are better slaves there than in Malawi, without jobs.
Did you know they are now looking for graduates? South Korea rocks!