This week the state owned newspaper, DailyNews carried an advert calling for applications for part time jobs in government ministries and departments. Although we are yet to know the specific requirements apart from maybe qualifications, it is our sincere hope that government will consider hiring qualified youth to fill in those posts.
The advert comes just under a week after the minister responsible for allocation of public funds; Kenneth Matambo could not give any assurance to thousands of Batswana youth graduates who are roaming the streets that they will be provided with permanent and sustainable employment. Records show that our greater predicament as a nation today is the ever growing levels of youth unemployment.
On Monday we listened with keen interest to Matambo particularly when he was talking about the 19.8 percent unemployment rate. For some reasons we were hoping he would surprise us and announce governments’ precise commitment and strategies to creating jobs for the employed Batswana graduates who are currently rooming the streets. But as usual Matambo talked about the need for government to continue providing resources for social welfare programmes such as destitution allowances, school feeding programmes and Ipelegeng which are aimed at providing short term aid for the unemployed and vulnerable groups in society.
This is not surprising because this budget, like many others before, was just a repetition of previous ones that have always failed to protect the country’s most valuable resource, its youth. Yet our tertiary schools churn out thousands of graduates every year who all have to deal with the daunting deprivation of unemployment. Perhaps we should mention that although we have nothing against the government’s decision to make the fight against poverty a top priority, we are at the same time of the view that the most enduring or rather effective way to fight poverty is to come up with more sustainable ways to create meaningful employment. Not part time jobs. Not Ipelegeng. Not YES program. Not internship. Not Tirelo Sechaba. Meaningful employment. In as much as we believe that it is not the job of government alone to create jobs, we also believe that there is no need to remind government that it needs to empower the private sector to thrive and thus employ more of our people.
Matambo and the current administration need to be reminded that our economy cannot sustain a situation where a large proportion of the youth population are cut adrift, which results in an upward trend in the welfare bill while allowing desperately needed talents to lie fallow. As it stands, we are headed towards that direction. Perhaps another reminder to the current administration, in a space of a week, could be the fact that these high levels of unemployment, if left unchecked, will result in a groundswell of anger, resentment and disillusionment among those directly affected.
We said last week that already a bunch of graduates who are currently on the government internship program are disgruntled. They are disgruntled because they feel that they are being used as “cheap labour” by both government and some private companies. Sadly, they are right.
Is that really what we want for our citizenry? In the past few years there has been mention of the “economy”…, “the economy this, the economy that”…”the economy is not doing well.” Can we really afford to blame the economy forever?
Anyway on a positive territory, the minister announced on Monday that complementary laws, labour laws such as the Employment Act, Trade Disputes Act, Workers’ Compensation Act and Trade Unions and Employers’ Organisations Act will be reviewed to facilitate harmonious industrial relations and also to make the labour relations environment conducive for investment. We hope government will speed up such a process as it could go a long way to create jobs for our unemployed youth. The #Bottomline remains that year in, year out our universities and colleges churn out thousands of youth into the streets to look for jobs that are non-existent. That should get any serious government worried.