Retired University of Botswana theologian Obed Kealotswe has called on government to empower unemployed youth to start businesses.
Kealotswe said this when giving a keynote address at the opening of the three-day symposium on labour movement perspective on unemployment crisis in Botswana, organised by the National Amalgamated, Central Government and Parastatal Workers Union (NALCGPWU). The symposium was held under the theme: ‘Towards liberating the nation from socio- economic justice’.
He said it was disheartening to see a government that is intolerant of the informal sector though it is very important. “The police chase away people who sell Cool Time juice saying they steal from people and risk being hit by cars. They accuse those at car washes of stealing but they never bring forth the evidence,” he said. The theologian said the informal sector, if promoted, could significantly cut unemployment as a lot of people want to take the route but the environment is not conducive.
Kealotswe said it was important that just as Batswana stood together towards independence celebrations, they should stand together and fight unemployment. “Batswana should question why we would need to spend billions on military equipment when we are not under any threat. In fact if we are to have a war it will be from within the country,” he said.
He also called on all to look to God to help as churches,
For his part, Patrick Molutsi said due to the government’s forced expenditure reduction, there will be more jobs lost. He said that called for a different strategy of creating jobs. “We have a problem of implementing National Development Plans, SPEDU has existed for over 20 years, same for CEDA, but how many jobs have been created? Where is the Lobatse Leather Park that should create 4,000 jobs, it could be relieving us of the Selebi-Phikwe tragedy, President Khama in 2007 spoke about creating 15,000 jobs in Pandamatenga, where are the jobs?” he said.
Molutsi said from the first census in 1971, it was clear that we would have many youth this time and it should have long been planned for to reduce unemployment. He urged labour unions and the young people to come up with alternative strategies for tackling unemployment.
The symposium, which ends today, is attended by unemployed youth, former BCL workers and those who were fired after the mother of all strikes in 2011 amongst others.