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The Diaspora Affairs and Migrant Workers’ Committee and the Departmental Committee on Labour this morning jointly hosted the Portfolio Committee on Employment and Labour of the Republic of South Africa which is in the country for a one-week study tour.

Making their opening remarks during the 2-hour engagement characterized by sharing of experiences on Labour and Employment matters, Committee Co-Chairs Hon. Eric Muchangi (Runyejes) and Hon. Lydia Haika Mizighi, lauded the lawmakers for choosing Kenya as their benchmark destination.

They started off by expounding on the respective Committees Mandates and how the two Committees are expected to respond to Labour and Employment matters. On her part, Hon. Mizighi noted that while the Republic of South Africa faces the issue of influx of illegal migrant workers, Kenya’s high unemployment levels had compelled her to start engagements for labour export given her steady skilled human capital which remains out of work.

“ To address the challenge of high unemployment in the county, the government recently developed a National Policy on Labour Migration to provide a framework for promotion of inclusive and sustainable development of the country through safe, orderly and productive labour migration”, she explained.

“Kenya is also keen to establish a Kenya Migrant Workers Welfare Fund (KMWWF) which is  envisaged to provide protection, welfare and assistance to Kenyan migrant workers during migration, staying in destination country and upon return to the country”, she added.

Hon. Muchangi also noted that Kenyan migrant workers contribute to the increasing global labour market, with both skilled and unskilled workers searching for opportunities abroad. He observed that the Middle East and more so, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Dubai, and Qatar remain the largest labor destinations for both skilled and unskilled migrant workers from Kenya.

He however explained that though at the moment Kenya was focused on exporting labour to reduce her runaway unemployment levels, there exist vibrant legal provisions both in the Constitution and in the subsidiary laws on labour migration in Kenya.

“Article 41 of the constitution of Kenya guarantees every citizen the right to fair labor practices and the rights of employees. There are also other legal frameworks that govern labour migration in Kenya such as the National Employment Authority Act, of 2016, the Employment Act of 2007, the Labour Institutions Act of 2007, and the Immigration and Citizenship Act of 2011”, Hon. Muchangi told the delegation.

 He further observed that these frameworks form the labour migration policies that ensure that the rights to fair labor practices for employees are implemented, from recruitment to remuneration.

The South African Parliamentary delegation led by the chairperson, Hon ML Dunjwa (Ms) used the platform to explain to the Committee the challenges experienced by their government due to high numbers of illegal immigrant workers from the neighbouring countries. Hon. Dunjwa explained that the situation had largely unsettled their citizenry given the high number of South African nationals out of work, and often manifested itself as xenophobia.

They however thanked the Kenyan government for her efforts in intercepting thousands of illegal immigrants from the region who have tried to use Kenya as their conduit routing to South Africa. They stated that though they are in support of the implementation of the African Union protocol on Free Movement of Persons, Rights of Residence and Right of establishment, it ought to happen with the establishment legal frameworks.

Both parties further deliberated on the need to have their institutions of higher learning regularly review their curricula to ensure that the studies they offer are in tandem with the labour market needs in their respective countries. They also cast a spotlight on the need to robustly adopt policies to address the challenges affecting the youth along unemployment. 

Also present during the meeting were: Hon. Simon King’ara (Ruiru),Hon. Ernest Kivai (Vihiga), Hon. Peter Kihungu (Kangema) Hon. Charity Kathambi (Njoro), Hon. Lilian Chebet (Trans Nzoia -CWR), Catherine Wambilianga (Bungoma-CWR), Hon. Leah Monirei (Kajiado-CWR) and Hon. Titus Lotee (Kacheliba).

The delegation from South Africa comprised of Hon M Nontsele (Mr),Hon PP Makhubele (Ms), Hon. AS Zuma (Ms), Hon. CN Mkhonto, Hon. SL Ngcobo (Mr), Mr. Z Sakasa (Committee Secretary)  and Mr. RS Ngcobo (Content Advisor).

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