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Coming Home With Nothing

Nearly 10,000 Malawians have made the long journey home from SA since May, according to Malawi’s department of Disaster Management Affairs, with more due in coming months as the coronavirus eats deeper into the world economy. The coronavirus pandemic has decimated livelihoods across the globe, and with 85% of jobs in Africa classed as “informal employment”, the 55-nation AU estimates some 20-million jobs will be threatened by the pandemic. In a pre-coronavirus world where people followed the money, SA was a jobs magnet for nearby economies that could not support their own populations. There are nearly 87,000 Malawians in SA. Most find work in shops, factories and as domestic workers or gardeners. Those interviewed were earning about R2,000 a month, and had stayed in SA for two to five years, trying to save money to bring back home. According to the International Labour Organisation, 75% of young workers in Malawi have only “irregular employment”, meaning it might be badly paid, temporary or seasonal.