Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary (PS) Ambassador Kamau Macharia has elicited a heated debate after revealing that a majority of Kenyans working in Saudi Arabia are to blame for the misfortunes that befall them.
Speaking at the Safari Park Hotel on Monday, September 19, Ambassador Macharia Kamau told Members of the 13th Parliament that at times, particularly domestic workers do not want to be submissive to their bosses and their behavior often lands them in trouble in Saudi Arabia and the gulf countries.
Using Saudi Arabia as an example, the PS explained that employees prefer working with submissive individuals, but some workers are hard-headed, potentially putting themselves in danger that comes in the form of physical abuse and even restrictions from traveling.
“There are some places the kind meekness and submissiveness required from domestic workers is not innate in Kenyans seeking those jobs. Sometimes our people will not be so subservient and when they go to these countries like Saudi Arabia are very ancient. The people who suffer terrible beatings, and abuse are usually people of that category – house helps,” Macharia noted.
The PS blamed this on a cultural gap among job seekers exploring opportunities in the Middle East. He challenged the Ministry of Labour should train the exported labor force on how to handle diversity and instill socio-cultural tolerance.
He argued that if the situation was as dire as portrayed, then the majority of Kenyans working in various sectors would have also raised concerns about the employment conditions.
“In that same country, we have over 100,00 Kenyans working in multiple industries who have no problem, We have to ask ourselves; are we exporting the right category of personnel? Do they have the right capacity and training to understand that culture?” he posed.
Macharia beckoned the MPs to handle the matter with caution as rushing to institute policies would potentially destroy diplomatic and labor relations between Kenya and the Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia.
The Ambassador was responding to questions raised by the lawmakers on the welfare of workers in the Middle East amid rising cases of Kenyans being mistreated and even killed in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East.