On Thursday, the nation woke up to the sad news about the imminent closure of the fast food retailer KFC Botswana. The closure, just like others will result in job losses. Although the desire and hope is that a new franchisee will come in place and re-hire the employees, at the moment it is expected that by the end of this week, the 400 employees of VPB Propcop (PTY) (LTD) will be jobless.
By the end of this month most of the 400 employees who have been working at the 12 restaurant spread across the country will have no disposable income.
The company has promised to “work closely with the department of Labour and Home Affairs to ensure that the employees are treated in a manner befitting the dedicated service they had given”. We take that to mean that the company will fully pay-out cancellation of contract fees to all the affected employees.
Although the main worry is currently on their future with regard to getting employed again, another immediate worry is their ability to use the money that the company will pay out to them. We need to state from the onset that we do not in any way undermine the abilities and capabilities of any certain employee or employees of KFC Botswana or any fellow countrymen who have lost their jobs. This is in relation to use of money. However the commentary is motivated by the general level of financial literacy in our country.
The eminent closure of KFC Botswana and all other business that closed shop in Botswana recently happens at a time when a vast majority of our people, even amongst the educated populace, do not have a basic understanding of financial principles. This is despite the fact that it has been clear, atleast after the 2008 recession that the need for financial knowledge has taken a global centre stage.
We all ought to agree, atleast to disagree that for real economic prosperity of Batswana, a simple recipe is required. Private companies and the government as employers need to ensure that more staff, other than the finance director and accountant has basic financial knowledge.
As the country marks its 50th Independence in September perhaps it is the appropriate time to reflect also whether this years of ‘independence’ has been financially fruitful to the citizenry of this country.
They say numbers tells a ‘better’ story and perhaps that explains why we are keeping record of the years that we have been independent as a country. But as we keep record of this close to five years decades of ‘independence’ we should also reflect on whether our people are financially independent? How many of our people can lose their jobs today, like the KFC Botswana employees who lost it this week but still be able to maintain their lifestyles atleast for a subsequent six months?
How many Batswana workers, for the few that have formal jobs, have flourishing personal cash flows and do not necessarily make literal countdown to the next pay-day as soon as they are paid?
While we wait to know what will happen to our 400 brothers and sisters at KFC Botswana, and of course waiting to celebrate the much talked about 50 years of independence we should seriously ponder on the issue of citizen building.
Citizen-building involves providing people with the required skills to gather, understand and analyse evidence about the contexts and institutions that affect their lives ÔÇô particularly their economical lives. Our people need knowledge, support, services and opportunities in order to thrive financially. Our fellow countrymen at KFC Botswana would not be as uncertain and insecure as they are now had they been prepared for such.
In the meantime, and going forward our government should consider providing a programme that will expand the industrial base which is key to sustained overall economic development as well as the human development of our country.
Once again, we all ought to agree that creation of a wealthy Botswana nation is what should matter most, but financial illiteracy seems to be amongst key underlying factors hindrance as far as we are concerned. Wasteful and irregular expenditure is rampant and has been well documented amongst our people. We just hope that those who continue to lose their jobs and are awarded “packages” do not necessarily waste their money. How much counselling and guidance do such individuals get from either their former employers or any interested institution? That’s of cause a rhetoric question.
That aside we continue to call on our legislatures to consider advocating for the introduction of financial literacy training in our schools ÔÇô a move that we strongly believe will bolster financial knowledge of our future generations.
There is no single doubt that the root cause of poverty and unemployment among indigenous Batswana is undoubtedly a result of the many misguided and unsustainable citizen economic empowerment programmes that our government has pursued over the years. These policies include those that failed to include financial literacy into our schools curriculums.
It is quite evident that for those citizens that are lucky to have jobs and earn a few Pulas at the end of the month end up with zero gains. (Hand to mouth scenario). This is partly due to lack of understanding of finance matters – Without basic understanding of finance, wrong and misinformed decisions prejudicial to businesses and homes are regularly made.
The #Bottomline therefore is that in wake of this sad reality; the continuos loss of jobs and failure to create new ones the current government and all interested parties need to collaborate to ensure that the citizenry of this country get knowledge, support, services and opportunities in order to thrive financially.