Beneficiate resources to avoid labour migration, says the Pan African Parliament

By Tatenda Chitagu

MIDRAND, SOUTH AFRICA-Africa should beneficiate its vast resource endowments as failure to do so entails exporting jobs to Europe and other continents leading to brain drain through labour migration, the continental legislative body, the Pan African Parliament (PAP) has said.

Speaking during the ongoing PAP committee sittings here, Amos Masondo, a South African member of parliament said migrants are subjected to a new form of slavery owing to the deplorable conditions that they find themselves in in the countries of destination where they will be looking for jobs.

Masondo was responding to a presentation by Odette Bolly, the Coordinator of the Joint Labour Migration Programme (JLMP), Department of Health Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development at the African Union Commission (AUC) during a capacity building training workshop on Migration /Labour Migration governance in Africa for PAP members yesterday.

“Migrant labour is now a new form of slavery. That is modern slavery because of the inhuman conditions subjected to African migrants. If Africa is endowed with resources, why do Africans migrate to Europe to work where their resources are eventually being beneficiated?

“There is no independence without owning our natural resources. Africans are chasing jobs created by their natural resources which are being processed and beneficiated in Europe and other continents. If we beneficiate and value-add our natural resources, Europeans will flock to Africa looking for work,” he said.

Masondo blasted African intellectuals for not contributing to the knowledge economy when it comes to value addition of resources.

“Our intellectuals simply memorize books written by Europeans, instead of contributing knowledge. It is just memory work and they cannot apply that knowledge,” said Masondo.

PAP members in session during the capacity building workshop on migration/labour migration governance in Africa (pic by Tatenda Chitagu/HuMFOZ)

Newton Samakayi, a legislator from Zambia, said the blame squarely lies with African leaders.

“It is our fault as African leaders to create jobs in Europe which our nationals latter follow there, instead of them working in their countries. We are exporting jobs to Europe. It is our fault that we do not exploit and beneficiate our resources. We need to have a paradigm shift. We need to adopt good resource governance.

“In Zambia, in the province where I come from, there was a discovery of gold. Local people are demanding to be partners and not bystanders and I am pushing for that in Parliament. They cannot just be bystanders. We do not need to have a resource curse. Locals need to benefit from a resource from their area,” said Samakayi.

Professor Margret Kamar, a senator from Kenya who is a member of the Trade, Customs and Immigration Committee at the PAP, said Africa’s human resource should also be beneficiated through skills development.

“We need to choose whether to send skilled or unskilled workers to other continents as migrant labour. All resources should be processed and value-added, including the human resource. We should move from brain drain to brain gain. African nurses are respected and on demand in Britain because they are skilled and well trained. Canada is in need of skilled workers like carpenters, welders, plumbers, among others. If our migrant labour is skilled, they will be dignified. Unskilled labour is exploited everywhere-one day you are a cleaner, the next a gardener, the next a babysitter. Let us export only processed and value added resources to retain our jobs,” she said.

Bolly said African governments should establish Skills-Mobility-Partnerships with key countries of labour migrants destinations so that they fund skills development for Africa not to be a training ground for manpower.

“Africa should not be a continent for manpower development. African governments should have a Skills-mobility-Partnership with other nations so that those countries largely importing our labour should invest in the skills and manpower development to us if they recruit Africans in their countries. Africa should not be a training ground for other continents,” she said.

With 275 members, PAP was established in March 2004 to give Africa a voice in geo-political decision making and discussions on the challenges and problems facing the continent.

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