This morning’s discussion at the Covid-19 Communication Centre is on the impact of the pandemic on productivity. Panellists are Daan Strauss of the Namibian Employers Federation, deputy director of labour market information David Iigonda, and National Union of Namibian Workers’ Job Muniaro.

Daan Strauss. Photo: MICT

NEF Secretary General Strauss said there was a lack of business continuity plans and measuring productivity of those staff working from home. He added that adapting to working remotely was also effected and the psychological aspect and fears of livelihoods and economy which had to be dealt with by employers.

He said working remotely was implemented and the fear for livelihoods and the economy was brought about, which employers have to deal with.

Deputy director of labour market information David Iigonda said the Covid-19 pandemic added to existing problems in the country. When lockdown was announced, businesses had to retrench workers as they were already working from hand to mouth, he said.

“Within two weeks you could already see retrenchments and reduced salaries,” he said.

He said those who were retrenched first were the less educated and less skilled, but professionals now also face the possibility of being retrenched. Companies depending on labour migration, bringing skilled workers from outside, were impacted due to border restrictions.

NUNW secretary general Job Muniaro said the country lacks a policy of productivity, meaning it will be difficult to measure this.

“If we want to measure the impact, but as a country we don’t have those policies, how will we measure it?” he asked.

Muniaro said Covid-19 has revealed the cracks in the labour sector with companies registered as ghosts.

He questioned whether the government considered the production of beer, exports and employment at breweries and shebeens.

“If some of this stock expire, will we tell them to throw their money away and declare themselves bankrupt? This is serious. Shebeens and breweries sit with huge amounts of beer,” he said.

Iigonda said for a business to be productive and competitive, you will need a competent and skilled workforce which should be first priority. In addition, there should be a budget for the training and development of staff.

“If you look at the budget, training and development were not prioritised. The same should apply to business fraternities,” he said.

Iigonda said scientific research should also be invested in. He said if conducted, the country would not be in the situation it is.

Regarding infrastructure development, he said Namibia is not at the level of other countries when it comes to the Global Competitive Report.

He said that for now, companies should ensure that they focus on sizing their businesses in operation, having no retrenchments until the shock of Covid-19 is over.

HEALTH UPDATE: Health minister Kalumbi Shangula says case number four has recovered, bringing the total number of recoveries to nine. The country still has 16 confirmed cases with seven active cases in a “satisfactory condition”. He says 102 samples were taken yesterday and all came back negative.

Kalumbi Shangula

He thanked the public for wearing masks, but urged them to still adhere to other measures such as hand washing and social distancing. He shot down footage circulating of a nurse urging people not to wear masks.

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