Once again Statistics Botswana is in the news for the wrong reasons. Just weeks after media exposed rampant maladministration at the newly formed parastatal we are informed, as reported elsewhere in this publication, about impending job losses at SB targeting employees in the lower ranks.
It is disheartening that the Minister of Finance and Development Planning attempted in Parliament on Thursday to trivialise the ever increasing job losses in different sectors of the economy claiming that "while some people are losing jobs others may be gaining employment in other sectors of the economy in larger numbers". This is a fallacy.
To rub salt into an already gaping wound in almost all the instances, the workers who face the predicament of joblessness are never forewarned to ready themselves for hard times ahead. The employer simply rides roughshod over them in total disregard of labour laws governing contracts of employment. As the cliche goes forewarned is forearmed and the least the employers could do is to be honest with the workers facing peril. But there is no hope! The hopeless situation is even aggravated when government is taking the lead in such transgressions, totally disregarding her own promulgated laws to throw people into poverty under the pretext of improving efficiencies and creating opportunities for the private sector-otherwise known as privatisation.
We are aware of ongoing job losses in the financial services sector, services sector, mining industry, manufacturing and textile, and parastatals. In the end thousands of workers, who themselves support thousands of their dependents will soon have no source of income to sustain themselves.
It is telling that the lowly paid cadres always have to bear the brunt of losing jobs in large numbers in all the sectors where retrenchment is undertaken. These are the people at the bottom of the pay structure, who have for all intents and purposes, been struggling to eke out a living with the meagre wages while their bosses smile all the way to bank with hefty salaries and the accompanying allowances. For them to ever secure employment is a tough call.
Programmes put in place to create jobs for the rural majority in the Agriculture sector face a serious challenge due to poor rainfall in the just ended ploughing season. Already the ministry of agriculture has announced massive drop in yields due to the adverse weather conditions. For a government minister to pretend that it is business as usual is depressing to put it mildly.
All this (job losses) happens as government continues to fail dismally to diversify the economy away from mining and diamonds in particular by supporting the establishment of Small Micro and Medium Enterprises (SMMEs). This is the only hope for the semi-skilled workers thrown into the streets and has proven over time to be a sector that is resilient to economic turbulence. There is an urgent need therefore to strengthen the SMMEs by giving them all necessary support that will ensure that remain sustainable under the prevailing tough trading environment.