Zimbabwe's government will soon export skilled labour after the ruling party, Zanu-PF, failed to deliver on its 2013 election promise of creating 2.2 million jobs within a period of five years.
The ruling party, through its economic blueprint called Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim-Asset) promised to create over 2.2 million jobs, a promise that Zanu-PF conceded will not be achieved.
Over 4,610 companies closed down between 2011 and 2014, driving a further 55,000 people into unemployment. Unofficial figures suggest that 11 per cent of the population is in formal employment.
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Zimbabwe’s Higher Education, Science and Technology development minister, Godfrey Gandawa said a database of graduates was being created for jobs placement, both abroad and locally. He says this policy will see the country getting financial benefits.
“We are coming up with a policy as a ministry to help our skilled manpower to get jobs because there are countries with vacancies in various fields, but our people do not have access to those vacancies out there,” Gandawa is reported to have told the state controlled Herald.
Zimbabwe has signed agreements with South Sudan, Namibia, Angola and Botswana. The government will be paid for playing the recruitment agency role. Critics say the move has exposed President Mugabe’s failure to create jobs.
Obert Gutu, the spokesperson for the Movement for Democratic Change said the policy was an open admission by the Zanu-PF regime that Zim-Asset has been a total flop.
“When a country begins to actively encourage its qualified personnel to get jobs in other countries, you can then appreciate that the wheels are surely coming off. Instead of creating jobs under the much talked about Zim-Asset policy framework, the Zanu-PF regime has actually become an employment agent; eagerly recruiting young and highly qualified Zimbabweans to go and work in other countries. Under normal circumstances, this government would simply resign. They have totally failed the people of Zimbabwe''.
Maxwell Saungweme, development economist said this was unfortunate, adding the country cannot build and invest in human capital and fail to provide jobs for people it educated over the years spending public coffers.
“Policies on education and human capital development should be demand driven and not just supply labour and investing in education and skills you don't need. That you have so many qualified and educated people who can't get jobs in their country is a manifestation of government failure. The attempt to then export skills that are redundant in your country is just unsound. The government should address the root causes of the matter which is poor governance and inconsistent economic policies that have continuously eroded and shrunk the cake instead of growing it and provide jobs,” says Saungweme.
Political analyst Rashweat Mukundu said this was a policy of desperation that seeks to open a social pressure valve on the economic failures back home.
“If Zimbabweans have to move it must be voluntarily but right now labour or economic migration is a desperate move by many who see no hope in Zimbabwe.”
Social media activist and publisher Gift Mawire said labour export was not a new phenomenon especially for countries under dictatorship.
“The Philippines government of Dictator Ferdinand Marcos between mid-1960s to the mid-1980s saw an opportunity to export young men left unemployed by the stagnant economy and established a system to regulate and encourage labour outflows. It’s not a surprise that Zimbabwe has adopted a similar approach. It will not only help to avoid civil unrest associated with frustration but generate much needed revenue for the broke government."
Media reports suggest that the 91-year-old leader is expected to make a cabinet reshuffle Monday that might see more Joyce Mujuru (former vice president) loyalists being fired. Critics are not convinced this will bring any change to the collapsing economy.
For more read the August issue of Forbes Africa magazine. For back issues or to subscribe to Forbes Africa email Lieria Boshoff: [email protected] or visit www.forbesafrica.com