Job creation and income generation crucial for continued peace and stability
Since independence, Namibia has managed to get one thing right, which was to maintain peace and stability; or prevent mass violence and physical chaos.
In 2011 then President Hifikepunye Pohamba, whilst addressing the land issue in an interview with Al Jazeera, feared that Namibia might face a land revolution if the land issue is not dealt with adequately. In the same vein I am of the view that Namibia will also soon face a revolution if job creation or income generating opportunities are not widened. Revolutions usually contain elements of rebellions, revolts or uprisings that are aimed at changing the status quo that people have grown tired of. The challenge of revolutions usually is that it causes a lot of potential destruction leaving those that remain after a revolution with the hard work of restoring, or indeed improving what they revolted against. The reality is that this does often not take place automatically, hence creating more room for potential future discontent.
The challenge that is facing the future generation is one of despair and hopelessness. Whereas immediately after independence there was hope of a better tomorrow in terms of opportunities, the current youth generation does not have too much to look forward to. What do I mean by this? Those that went to school and graduated in the early nineties, or immediately after independence, would positively look forward to being employed or having an opportunity for a better life. This was because government was still hiring people, private sector in the primary, secondary and tertiary industry were blossoming and also still employing people and hence there was positivity around the future.
On the contrary, today’s graduates or school leavers are faced with a completely different environment. In their current reality the government is no longer hiring due to the fact that the public sector is saturated, and private companies, in both the primary, secondary and tertiary industries, are rather sceptical about employing more people due to changing times. The danger of this current scenario is that we are literally creating an army of young, restless, desperate and angry people. You would all agree with me that hungry people are said to be potentially angry and dangerous people. Indeed human beings are only humane when their basic needs are met and as soon as that is not the case, then they literally become like animals. This is a serious reality and the sooner we deal with this the better.
I would propose that in order to maintain peace and stability, the future generations should look at a few ways on how they can create employment or income as a matter of urgency. The first one I would suggest is to change our thinking. We can no longer afford to keep up with the structural foundations of our economy where we just export our raw materials, and literally import them back once processed elsewhere. We need to take a bold step and decide, for example, that we no longer export timber in raw form but create tables, furniture, and chairs here in order to create employment and export them as final products. A radical practical will is the only way through which this can be done because evidently the cosmetic things that we are busy with to make outsiders happy are not helping us much.
We also need to look at most of the things that we import and start seeing what it is that we can produce locally here for ourselves. This of course needs to come with a renewed faith and believe in ourselves since we currently prefer those things that come from outside, including people, instead of our own. If you do not have faith in yourself, who else should and why?
Another area that can create employment is the value chain of agriculture where we move from the primary to the secondary and then tertiary sector. In my view there are certain regions that can literally produce food to feed the entire country. Instead of importing all the food from outside, it should be better to produce it here locally for our own consumption, and then export if possible. The advantage of that is that we keep people active and circulate the scarce resources within the country. Our country has financial challenges and this is partially due to the fact that our money is constantly shipped elsewhere instead of staying in the country.
The last idea that I think we should seriously look at is sports. I am a firm believer that sports can make a difference as many athletes worldwide these days earn much better salaries than even your doctors, lawyers and other elite professionals. Just like the English Premier League, Spanish La Liga or German Bundesliga provide industries that absorb their young people through playing, marketing, advertising, hospitality, medicine, and whatsoever, we should be able to do that as well. The talent should be the least of our concerns once we get our organisation, planning and execution in place. We do not have a choice. If we do not seek serious alternative ways to address this issue, then we can surely look forward to a future revolution led by young people who will have lost hope of a better tomorrow. There is nothing more dangerous than someone who feels that they have nothing to lose. This might sound exaggerated to some but believe me, prevention is better than cure.
*Iipumbu Sakaria wrote this in his personal capacity as a Namibian citizen.
New Era Reporter
2019-03-08 10:19:44 4 months ago