20,000 graduates to be exported to South Sudan

An agreement has been signed that will see Zimbabwe sending nearly 20,000 graduates for employment in South Sudan. This is in line with an initiative by Zimbabwean authorities to export labour from a country that has Africa’s highest literacy rate and one of its highest jobless rates – estimated at over 80%.

Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development started its efforts to export labour by creating a database for all graduates from higher education institutions since independence from Britain in 1980.

By January this year, 14,000 people were said to have registered since the process started in July last year.

The country has also crafted a human export policy that is set to come before cabinet for endorsement in due course.

It is now in the process of negotiating the export of skilled labour with a number of countries including neighbouring South Africa, Botswana and Namibia.

Jonathan Moyo, Zimbabwe’s minister of higher and tertiary education, science and technology development, and his South Sudan counterpart Dr John Gai Yoah signed a memorandum of understanding on human capital development cooperation involving universities, research institutions, polytechnics and teacher education centres.

The Zimbabwean ministry’s Caleb Mharapira said the locals would be paid in line with “rates given to United Nations staff" in South Sudan. “This involves graduates in a number of fields. As you know there is close co-operation between Zimbabwe and South Sudan.”

He said South Sudan had indicated that it wanted expatriates for teaching, nursing and lecturing at polytechnics and colleges, among other professionals.

The Sudan Tribune quoted the country’s Foreign Affairs Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin as defending the move to hire foreigners, saying the country still lacked qualified nurses and teachers.

“As you know, we [South Sudan] have one of the highest maternal mortality [rates] in the world,” Marial reportedly told a broadcaster.

In 2015, South Sudan sent 200 students to various universities in Zimbabwe on scholarships provided by President Robert Mugabe’s government.