COMENTARY: Arrest massive job losses

SHARE   |   Sunday, 15 March 2015   |   By Staff Writer

The silence from government enclave over recent developments where thousands of workers were retrenched as companies close shop is discomforting, to say the least. It is disturbing that the current administration is turning a blind eye to the looming crisis of joblessness.
In just a month we have witnessed massive job losses particularly in the mining industry and other sectors of the economy. This is a disturbing development which requires intervention from the highest level. Already government is battling to arrest the soaring unemployment and poverty in the country and therefore we cannot afford any further additions to the scary statistic. The mining sector, being the biggest contributor to the economy and the highest employer outside government, remains critical to the development of this country and should not be allowed to collapse.
Just last week around 840 workers were thrown into the streets to join the masses on unemployment queues when Discovery Metals Boseto Copper mine collapsed under huge debts. Elsewhere at Diesel Power Botswana, Serowe Teemane Manufacturing Co, Gabane Diamond Cutting Co have also retrenched hundres of workers for different reasons. Needless to say, these workers have been supporting many other lives in their families, which cumulatively raises the number of those that stand to be negatively affected multiplefold.
These massive job losses should be a wake call as they clearly reveal the risk associated with over reliance on the mining sector to sustain the economy and provide jobs. Government should stop paying lip service to economic diversification and come up with policies to support other critical sectors of the economy with the potential to absorb many unemployed people roaming the streets. These include manufactutirng and agriculture. Already more and more people face a bleak future because of the poor rainfall that threatens to throw the agriculture sector into disarray. There should be programmes in place to enable people to create their own jobs instead of continuously looking to be employed by someone else.
We would like to urge government through the Minerals Development Company Botswana (MDCB),  to monitor developments at Boseto mine closely with the view to come on board. We trust that the involvement of government would ensure prudent management to deliver a sustainable project that will provide jobs for Batswana as well as contribute to the economy. For what it is worth we hope that this project will be resucitated by the several investors who have reportedly shown interest in coming on board.
The word retrenchment has been mentioned in quite a good number of organisations, parastatals and private companies. We are also aware that some financial institutions are currently in negotiations over exit packages for retrenchments soon to be rolled out. This could be attributed to lack of creativity in the management of these organisations who rush to offload workers at the first sign of hard times ahead.

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