Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Economic structural defects behind ongoing retrenchments

By the end of the year, which is only a few weeks down the line, the number of people who for one reason or another would be out of work in this country would be unprecedented.

By far the biggest contributor has been the closure of BCL in Selibe Phikwe, followed by its subsidiary in Francistown, Tati Nickel Mine.

Following closely in the heels will be a long trail of state owned enterprises like BMC (Botswana Meat Commission), LEA (Local Enterprise Authority), Botswana Housing Corporation and WUC (Water Utilities Corporation) that have made clear their intentions to cut off sizeable proportions of their employees.

Even before these closures and retrenchments, unemployment in Botswana was already considered so high that it amounted to both a security and political threat.

Many of the people laid off are people with work experience.

And if they cannot hold on to their jobs, what then is the chance on earth of the multitudes young people who since leaving college have not had any work experience to talk about.

In the meantime, Government appears to be totally helpless.

There does not appear to be any strategy, much less an agenda in place to deal with the unfolding crisis ÔÇô neither in the short term nor in the long term.

We are at the mercy of circumstances.

We are witnesses to an unfolding tragedy against which it seems our leader do not have a say.

They are not even prepared to tell us which way to run in order to duck the disaster.

As a country we are paying a price for a failure to diversify the economy away from the single-commodity based that it has been.

Diamond revenues have always served to hide and disguise the many internal inefficiencies of Botswana’s economy.

For as long as such revenues flowed, our leaders were all too happy to beat their chests in self appraisals, calling themselves prudent.

It did not matter to them that frugality and prudence are not the same thing.

No attempts were expended into being innovative to come up with other ways that would take the position of diamonds.

The effect of such shortcomings is the unfolding economic tragedies where unemployment levels are so high as to pose existential threat to the country as a whole.

Not even in 2008 when the entire world was grappling with recession that economists agree was worse than what happened in the 1930s was the situation as bad as today’s.

If there is no emergency measures put in place by authorities, the lives of thousands decent hardworking citizens that have recently been laid off with more set follow will be destroyed forever. Unemployment in Botswana is now out of control.

And as we say it has become an existential threat to this country.

People who have been laid off are now losing their houses as banks are foreclosing because they are unable to pay mortgages.

If there is any silver lining to talk about in the unfolding tragedy it is that the many internal weaknesses and structural defects inherent in our economy have been exposed.

 

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