Recently there have been accusations that the government is responsible for the high unemployment rate in the Land of the Brave.
The presumption is that the government has failed to create employment for especially our youth.
Such accusations are largely founded on ignorance and, in some cases, are perhaps malicious propaganda.
What happens in Namibia is provided for in the Namibian Constitution (NC), which is our supreme law.
Nowhere in the bill of rights does it state that the government must create employment.
Worldwide, no government operating under a democratic constitution creates employment for anyone.
However, governments in democracies must create conditions favourable to employment creation.
The government, Swapo, opposition parties and individuals are obliged to respect, protect and realise all the fundamental and human rights and freedoms listed in the bill of rights (Chapter 3, NC).
Among others, this is what article 5 of the Constitution is about. In essence Chapter 3 of the NC is a fortress for every Namibian.
This also means that, with perhaps the exception of articles 16 and 20, all human rights and freedoms in the bill of rights must be implemented immediately.
Implementing those rights and freedoms is free of charge.
However, the government is also required by the Constitution (among others, article 95, read with article 101) to pass laws giving effect to the principles and objectives of articles 95 to 100.
The government has largely, if not entirely, passed laws and adopted policies giving effect to these principles and objectives.
However, their implementation depends on the availability of resources.
This includes financial resources. Poor countries will be unable to implement principles and objectives without outside assistance.
WHAT GOVT MUST DO
It is also because of the government’s compliance with articles 95-100 of the Constitution that Namibia is a welfare state.
Our parliament has passed laws enabling Cabinet to pay pensions and other social welfare benefits, as well as laws on minimum wages for especially farm or similar workers.
Under the Constitution (article 98), the government is required to make laws and adopt policies giving effect to economic growth, prosperity and human dignity.
This mainly means laws and policies that enable, for example, the private sector to create employment, and which allow foreign investment in Namibia.
It is also true that the government has largely, if not entirely, implemented articles 98 and 99.
This means the government has created conditions favourable for employment creation in the private sector.
There are, however, several factors which have direct and indirect negative consequences for job creation for which the government must be largely, if not entirely, blamed.
These factors include corruption which includes conflict of interest in the government.
Corruption includes the government’s apparent or real reluctance to ensure that certain foreign investors pay taxes to the government.
There are widespread credible allegations that some investors hardly pay taxes to our government. There are also widespread credible allegations that the government is reluctant to collect taxes from mainly black-owned companies.
Another grave factor for which the government must shoulder the blame is the corruption around tenders worth millions, if not billions, of dollars, to companies which have no capacity to create employment!
Awarding megamillion-dollar tenders to investors and businesses or BBEs without the capacity to create jobs for our people is a political issue.
Another principal factor contributing to high unemployment is the fact that Namibia’s economy is very small compared to, for example, South Africa.
According to the World Bank, Namibia’s economy, measured in terms of its gross domestic product (GDP), is only US$13,31 billion. South Africa’s GDP is US$419 billion.
That means Namibia’s economy cannot sustain the growing number of young people who need jobs.
It is why you often find thousands of especially youthful citizens lining up for a mere handful of job opportunities.
Mathematically, it means the number of job seekers is inversely proportional to the number of jobs available.
It also means that as the number of unemployed people increases, the number of jobs decrease.
We as Namibians need to seriously fight corruption in our country.
In elections, for example, we must vote for candidates who are not corrupt.
Swapo, for one, must be congratulated for electing Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah as the party’s presidential candidate for the national and presidential elections scheduled for 2024.
This has created hope among some Namibians about the prospects of a better future.
- Phil ya Nangoloh is a human rights practitioner, a former Plan operator and founder and executive director of NamRights Inc