The future of the youth in Botswana’s economy continues to be unclear and uncertain and the rising cases of corruption in the country are further discouraging this key demographic.
Several local youth believe that corruption is the major cause of poverty and the reason why entrepreneurship is becoming difficult. In their eyes, some of the organisations created and funded by taxpayers to support youth development, help with funds and mentoring their enterprises, are riddled with corruption and failing their mandates.
Many young Batswana now believe that the qualifications they strive so hard for at educational institutions are not worth the paper they are written on. Connections and corruption have now become more important. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know, the youths say.
With youth unemployment estimated at 31.3%, young people in the country increasingly view corruption as the biggest obstacle to their aspirations. While government each year speaks of billions of pula being spent on programmes, parastatals, policies and the private sector all aimed at enhancing employment, the reports of corruption and the apparent immunity of culprits is depressing the youth.
“Corruption tota is the main cause of unemployment for us as a youth because it denies many of us a chance to be employed for those who don’t have connections in the work sectors,” says Phato F, a 25-year-old from Francistown who prefers not to use his real name as he is still job hunting and is afraid of stepping on toes.
“Some are told to engage in transactional sex to get employed and if they refuse, then no job is offered. Others do not have anything to ‘offer’ for these jobs except their qualifications.
“These things also affects how we youth view the importance of spending four to five years in tertiary institutions, while we know that to get employed after school one needs to have a connection or have something to ‘offer’ to the employers.”
Phato F says corruption also hinders development at a local and national level.
“Corruption leads to poverty or delays the country’s development.
“In this case let’s say tenders are awarded to those in high classes because they buy or are given the tenders because they are well-known or close to the people awarding the tenders.
“Those who are unknown or poor are left there and
Mosa Nkoma, a 24-year-old from Palapye, believes that corruption is on the rise.
“There is a lot of corruption in our country,” she says.
“I don’t see the situation being rectified anytime soon because everyone wants to satisfy their personal needs before the interests of the people who voted them in.
“With the way politicians run everything that involves money, we will all in the same way become lured into corrupt activities just to earn a better life as well.
“Here in Botswana, we’ve come to a point where if you can’t beat them just join them in their corruption.
“Gore bogolo ha motho a ka bona moronyana le ene a se nnele mosetlha ruri.”Nkoma says, in her view, while corruption has always been there, in recent years the cases have risen quite drastically.
“Just like other African leaders, our ruling party politicians have been in many cases seen to be taking advantage of the current pandemic to loot the government of money in the name of fighting against the pandemic and if this trend continues, the worst-case scenario is that as a country we might be heading to be hit by a great economic recession,” she says.
For Gaone Maruping, a 24-year-old from Kanye, corruption is directly tied to the level and speed of development.
“There is corruption in Botswana and there is a lot of it.
“Corruption slows down development activities and there is a lot of it.
“It discourages the spirit of skilled and honest citizens.
“It also affects the fair distribution of resources and opportunities negatively,” he says.
In Mmadinare, 24-year-old Tebogo Marata says her future and that of other youths is in jeopardy due to corruption.
“It does affect my future. Employment rates will go down. Chances of me being employed are lower because it will be argued that there’s no money.
“And again, entrepreneurship will be affected, because when I want to start a business and request capital, I will be told that ga go na madi ebe ke nna ka ha mosing.”
*Tebelelo is a regular contributor to Mmegi