THE PRESS is divided on the observation of this year’s Labour Day whose theme is “Entrepreneurship and skills development being the source of employability of our youth in Malawi.”
An official event marking the public holiday is being held in the capital Lilongwe, at Masintha ground in Kawale Township.
The observation of the day, which will be characterised by dances and fun, is happening in an unindustrialised Malawi.
This is a country whose workers are battling extremely low wages against the daily increase of goods and services and tough working conditions.
Government workers, mainly those in the health, education and judiciary sectors frequently stage labour strikes in protest of such challenges.
Most importantly, many youth in Malawi remain unemployed.
Such is the importance of this year’s theme that a heated debate on the matter ensued between radio personalities Jane Kaonga and Panther Rix.
The two shared their views in Capital FM’s news and current affairs weekly program, Daybreak Malawi.
While Jane thinks the theme provides room for young people to venture into entrepreneurship.
Rix argues that the environment in Malawi is extremely far from being conducive for SMEs to thrive.
He describes the theme as a mockery of the highest order.
Saying it has come at a time when international organisations such as Oxfam have predicted a gloomy future for many of the country’s unemployed youth.
The seasoned broadcaster is of the strong opinion that not much effort is being driven towards improving the lives of many of the country’s youth, who remain the most poorest and vulnerable in the world.
He suggests that government and other employers should seriously consider providing business opportunities to the youth and women.
In his opinion this should be deliberately encouraged to spur economic growth.
Jane, however, passionately feels that many of the country’s young people do not want to take up the challenge of creating jobs for themselves and fellow youth.
Her view is that Malawi has a lot of opportunities to offer to the youth who she described as being so full of energy, passion and creative ideas.
Nonetheless, they both agree that the vocational training program that the government is undertaking is a move towards having a Malawi with skilled young people.
The duo, however, is extremely concerned that these young people are not being effectively being transformed into entrepreneurs as many spend months-on-end looking for jobs when they can create jobs themselves.
Both radio personalities are in their mid-30s. Understandably their worry, as is with most young people, is on the future of the country, whose youth are extremely marginalised.
Perhaps being young parents they are enormously concerned that even their children will continue experiencing the same challenges that have kept Malawi one of the poorest countries in the world for more than five decades.
A large number of positions of leadership and influence in Malawi are still being held by the older generation. This is raising fears that change is nowhere near.
Political influence, corruption, lack of education, tribalism and nepotism are some of the factors that have, times without number, been highlighted by various organisations including the ILO, World Bank and IMF as being the deterrents to achieving an equitable labour force in Malawi.