by Charmaine Ngatjiheue

ANALYSTS are calling on the government to stimulate production sectors such as agriculture, mining, and tourism and hospitality to create employment post-Covid-19.

ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER HUSTLE … Unemployed residents gather at traffic lights all over Windhoek daily with the hope of securing any kind of job to earn some much-needed cash. Most of the men wear blue overalls and are ready to do hard labour. Photo: Garwin Beukes

This comes after the Ministry of Labour last week announced 543 people at 10 companies have been retrenched during the lockdown.

The retrenchments took place between 27 March and 27 April in the Khomas, Erongo and Hardap regions.

Most of the retrenchments were in the Khomas region with 406 job losses, followed by the Erongo region with 131 (mining and quarrying jobs) and the Hardap region with six job losses.

Of these, 22 jobs were in construction, five in transport and storage, 380 in the accommodation and food services sectors, and five in other services.

Speaking to The Namibian yesterday, economist Jacob Nyambe said more job losses are imminent as companies are faced with the challenges of sustaining labour.

Nyambe said it is imperative for the country to tap into productive sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, mining, and tourism and hospitality, which are critical to job creation and economic growth.

“Agriculture is a critical sector, but not the only one. The mining sector is also critical, and when everything normalises, there is a need to stimulate production in that sector. We have also not been manufacturing our own, but post-Covid-19, we need to look into it. One way would be to export goods and create jobs. Additionally, the country can also consider stimulating the hospitality sector post- Covid-19 as it is also critical,” he said.

Nyambe said retrenchments were due to the effect of the lockdown, adding certain companies may not even retain any employees post-Covid-19, and there would also be companies which would find it difficult to pay for labour while generating income with no resources available.

“Some companies will have to find other sources of funding . . . Companies are very likely to retrench even further, and it is worse for medium-sized enterprises, because they sometimes operate on a hand-to-mouth basis. They generate an income now and have to use that income for the end of the month,” he said.

Nyambe said a recession for the domestic economy is unavoidable, and from July to December, Namibia would definitely see negative figures, because government services would be severely affected.

“We expect the economy to contract. When that happens, jobs are reduced, and . . . growth will only come from a very cold percentage in the future, not this year,” he said.

Another economist, Omu Kakujaha-Matundu said more retrenchments are expected post-Covid-19.

He said before the lockdown, the construction sector, which used to drive the economy, was already hit hard.

He said the sector employs semi-skilled and unskilled workers, and the sector would be affected severely due to the government putting tenders on ice.

Kakujaha-Matundu also analysed the tourism sector, which saw a loss of 380 jobs in accommodation.

He said recovery would depend on how long the Covid-19 pandemic lasts.

“If we open sooner, it could perhaps salvage the sector, but if it drags on until November, the government would channel most of its resources towards the novel coronavirus. So for the government to kick-start the economy and create jobs, they would need to borrow big time and invest in the different sectors,” he said.

Kakujaha-Matundu said it is high time the government stimulated the agriculture sector, which has been largely neglected.

Bro-Matthew Shinguadja, executive director of labour said lockdown retrenchments occurred despite the state of emergency proclamation providing for the suspension of the provisions of certain laws.

“The proclamation prohibits retrenchments during the lockdown period, however, if after the lockdown an employer wishes to dismiss employees for reasons related to the actual or potential impact of Covid-19, the employer must do so in compliance with section 33 and 34 of the Labour Act,” he said.

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