An investigation into high proportions of unemployment in the second city of Francistown by the Midweek Sun has unearthed the different faces of joblessness faced by youth.
Tshiamo Morobosi (Bachelor of Arts Mass Communication, Curtin University of Technology in Australia): “The situation of unemployment in this country is a serious concern as it breeds fraudsters who in the long run will become a thorn on the side government. Due to unemployment graduates of information technology (IT) have now resorted to cyber fraud as they use the skills they have acquired at school to rob people including the government.”
He added that most of the unemployed graduates and school drop-outs are from poor families and they get involved in crime out of desperation rather than choice. Youths are involved in criminal acts such as human trafficking, cash fraud and illicit drugs, he says.
Asked how he is surviving without a job, Morobosi said that he is using the knowledge he acquired abroad to make ends meet by helping mass media communication companies in the city on a temporary basis. “Re tshela ka di piece job ntate go kwakwaletse,” he said.
Anonymous* is a University of Botswana graduate and a confessed drug lord. He is the only child armed with a degree in his family. He was compelled by unemployment to push drugs for other drug lords until he became one of them.
“I have a Bachelor’s degree in humanities and a post graduate degree in education. After my graduation more than a decade ago, I realised that there are no teaching vacancies in this country. I was embarrassed to continue depending on my elderly mother who survived on Ipelegeng. A friend of mine from the university paid me a visit. He was driving a fancy car but was not working. He introduced me to the trafficking of Marijuana from Swaziland across South Africa into Botswana,” he revealed.
He said that although the business of illegal drug trafficking is risky he has been able to evade arrest because the police assist the culprits for a fee. ‘I have since become a drug lord and I am making money as I have also realised that even some top security officers are drug mafias. This makes our circle unbreakable.
Drugs destroy lives but we can’t just let ourselves and our children starve due to unemployment. Our graduate sisters have also been turned into sex toys. If they can’t find a job definitely they will find criminals and sugar daddies loaded with cash to support them through the rough patch of joblessness,’’ he said.
In fact even some jobless female graduates have also resorted to peddling drugs more especially cocaine, marijuana, mandrax and many others which are easy to conceal.
Mmasabata Thuso who completed her Form 5 in 2012 but could not qualify for government sponsorship did not wallow in sorrow and self-pity when face with joblessness. She decided to secretly understudy her elder sister who was a graduate in Beauty therapy and specialising in manicure.
“I noticed that my sister was always busy shaping and colouring toes and finger nails for a living and since I had nothing to do by then, I engrossed myself into studying some of her books and learning the basic aspects of shaping and decorating nails. After a very short period, I was good at the trade that most of my peers started bothering me to open a mini nail shop. I obliged and moved into town where I am currently eking out a living from nails. I have also started saving some money so that I can enroll at one of the local institutions to study for a certificate in beauty therapy with the aim of opening my own beauty and massaging spar,” she said.
Thuso’s advice to the youth is to find what they are good at doing and focus their attention on it in order to beat the stubborn monster that is unemployment.
BACK ON TRACK
BR train 0501/BD 540 would not have derailed on 10 December 2019 had necessary precautions been taken, Botswana Railways (BR) staff members told the ongoing commission of inquiry in Mahalapye.
They blame the fatal accident in which two BR employees were killed on a raft of lapses, indecisions and negligence on the part of BR management. BR Senior Traffic Controller Simon Matenje revealed that there is a WhatsApp group that discusses everything concerning the running of BR trains. He said meteorological services had posted a memo warning that there would be floods on 4th December and shared it on the WhatsApp group. “The contents of the memo and their implications were discussed,” said Matenje who revealed that the group comprises most of the senior personnel in the BR hierarchy.
He lamented that although read and discussed the contents of the memo were “not given due attention.” Above that, on 9th and 10th December many BR staff members using the south bound and north bound trains warned relevant authorities about the possibility of floods, said Matenje. He believes there was negligence of duty on the part of management because everybody was aware of the floods at Moreomabele and Palla Road. “The relevant office should have directed stoppage of the trains or the adoption of an appropriate speed limit. “The best that management did was to give warnings about the floods but fell short of prescribing a solution,” he said. Matenje, who was on leave, said that he communicated his concerns about the reports of flooding and possible solutions to no avail.
When asked who exactly had the authority to do that, Matenje explained that it was the Operation’s Manager. Matenje also decried the lapses in the organisation’s system. He said motor trollies are helpful when inspecting the railway line. “However, they have not featured for a long time,” said Matenje who feels that regular inspection of the rail is a very critical part of safety. He said BR has not held any safety workshops in a long time. Mompoloki Rutherford, a train driver also appearing before the commission conceded that trollies had not been used on the BR lines for a long time. He said some senior managers use the train to inspect the line instead of trollies. “There are only two seats in the cabin but, contrary to safety rules, sometimes they just join us in the cabin which is a breach of the safety rules,” said Rutherford. Dikabelo Nawa, a retired train driver noted that BR workers were a sad lot because of pressure always exerted on them by management.
“Drivers work under pressure. The line between Mafikeng and Plumtree is old and very bad but we were always pushed by management to arrive on time. “There is just too much pressure. I once lost time and that put me into a big problem.” He said. He is also unhappy with the undergrowth and hanging branches next to the line because they obstruct the view of the crew. He appealed to the panel to recommend the introduction of a training centre for BR staff.
Peter Mokokwe, a recently retired train driver also complained that the rail road is never inspected. In addition to that, he told the commission that, he witnessed water around Palla Road on 9th December at the same place where the derailment later took place. Mokokwe, who himself did not alert control room about the water because he had heard through radio communication that his colleagues had reported the situation to control room, is also of the view that the disaster could have been averted had the 501 crew been alerted of the water situation.
On the other hand, a train controller named Moses Sethomo says he never got the communique warning the drivers about the impending floods. “There was a clear breakdown of communication,” said Sethomo who revealed that very often, even BR assets are wrongly used. “For example, sometimes freight locomotives instead of passenger train locomotives are used to haul the passenger train and this is a safety concern,” he noted. The hearings are continuing this week. The rail services that were suspended have since been resumed.
Youth lament slow pace towards ICPD commitments
Young people representing Botswana at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD25) in Nairobi, Kenya last week have expressed disappointment at the slow pace at which governments are moving towards achieving ICPD25 ideals.
Trevor Oahile, a youth advocate and student at the University of Botswana participated at the Nairobi Summit to highlight on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) of men and boys.
Oahile hosts a radio show sponsored by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Don’t Get It Twisted on Yarona FM. The show deals with issues that affect boys and men. Oahile participated in a panel discussion at the Summit on the involvement of men and boys in accelerating the ICPD promise.
He is of the view that countries needs to work together to end violence that is perpetuated by harmful gender norms that are antagonistic to progress towards the ideals of the ICPD agenda. “Botswana government and private sector are still challenged to invest a lot of money into implementing their commitments,” Oahile said, adding that Comprehensive Sexual Education on the other hand has to be rolled out to every school in the country.
“We also acknowledge that it is important to avoid stereotypes that impact decisions that people make. Men and boys often avoid certain services because they are known to be for girls and women,” Oahile said. Millicent Sethaile was at the Summit as a youth ambassador from an organisation called Her Voice, which funds and offers grants to smaller organisations that advocate for SRHR in communities. In her view the summit was significant because it was an opportunity for countries including Botswana to make commitments to fulfill the unfinished business of the ICPD made 25 years ago.
“What struck me the most is that I realised that Botswana has a long way to go to achieve the commitments she set for herself.”Sethaile also observed that the four commitments including to strengthen access to family planning, the reduction of maternal deaths, reduction of Gender Based Violence, provision of quality, timely and disaggregated data are activities that were already in the pipeline and have been discussed before. “I believe we now have to come up with actionable items that we can work on so that we can effectively deal with current challenges.”
For 18 year old University student Michelle Simon, the Nairobi Summit was a reality check, an opportunity to reflect and map the way forward.
“I realised that there are so many challenges, especially in Africa concerning SRHR,” Simon said. She also realised that Botswana has a lot of catching up to do to implement the commitments of the ICPD. “I also realised that issues including youth in power were left out.” Botho Mahlunge on the other hand comes back from the Summit with a conclusion that there are a lot of predicaments that young people find themseles in across the African continent including GBV and teenage pregnancy.
Programmes need to be intensified to ensure implementation. Mahlunge is also of the view that there is minimum youth engagement on issues that affet them the most. “Young people are tired of always convening about the same issues. It’s time to see the outcomes of Summits and Conferences,” Mahlunge said. She advised the youth to also be willing to engage when the oppotunity avails itself and to take up programmes that have been set to help them. Mahlunge said that failure to educate our young people on sexuality “is the reason so many girls are getting pregnant and infected with HIV.”
She said the continued exclusion of young people in rural areas from sexual and reproductive health and rights discussion is also to blame for the prevailing state of affairs. “Young people in rural areas are completely vulnerable. They are so far removed from the little information and services available to young people in urban areas,” Mahlunge observed.
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