A Gamed System Will Not Solve Unemployment

SCRAMBLE … This was the scene outside the Wanaheda Police Station where thousands of young people scrambled to apply for 750 cadet posts in the Namibian Police. Photo: Henry van Rooi

The past week has seen a flurry of caps and gowns as thousands of students graduated from the country’s top two public universities as well as privately run institutions of higher learning.

Proud families and loved ones celebrated their hard work with pomp and fanfare as they witnessed the donning of academic robes.

However, the harsh reality is that many graduates’ hopes of finding jobs appear bleak. They are more likely to join the ranks of the thousands of Namibians without jobs.

The unemployment issue is a ticking time bomb which needs to be immediately defused.

Despite the gravity of the situation, the government has made no serious policy interventions aimed at dealing with the problem. 

In fact, the Swapo-led government continues with schemes to distribute national resources to the privileged few while Rome burns.

Resettlement farms are still being gifted to a few instead of strategically broadening the pool and, for example, leasing productive land to young people to start cooperatives.

Fishing quotas are still being dished out to a handful of rent seekers for free, despite a high level government panel advising the government to auction this resource to generate better revenue which could be used to not only benefit the majority but to fund, among others, youth-led projects. 

State tenders ostensibly aimed at empowering businesses, remain dominated by an all too familiar clique. The system is being gamed in front of our eyes. 

In his state of the nation address in March, president Hage Geingob, rightly so, sounded the alarm and warned that frustrated, unemployed youths could easily be attracted to terrorism. 

But as usual, Geingob’s words remain rhetoric without broad-based action.

Rhetoric and tokenism will not cut it. Getting to grips with unemployment in Namibia requires a bold approach that involves the government, private sector and civil society.

It will require significant investment and effort, but it is essential for the country’s long-term prosperity and stability. 

Expecting the private sector to create jobs in an anti-investment environment is a pipe dream. 

Also, adding to an already bloated civil service and increasing the government wage bill is definitely not a solution. 
This week, more than 2 000 people gathered in Windhoek for just 750 cadet positions. 

In March, around 2 000 unemployed youths applied for 16 positions at a local restaurant, highlighting the grim reality of our unemployment crisis. These facts cannot be ignored. 

One of the most significant risks associated with not effectively dealing with unemployment is the possibility of social unrest. High levels of unemployment can lead to political instability. 

The prospect of angry and unemployed youths throwing sand to our democracy is staring us in the face. We can no longer afford to turn a blind eye to this national scourge.

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