A grim picture has been painted for young job seekers with statistics showing that the youth unemployment rate is higher than the national average of 18% and on an upward trend.

To get an idea of how unemployed youth were coping financially we spoke to five young people in Francistown about their problems.

Khumubulani Mukani

Khumbulani Mukani (23) of Monarch’s Area I location runs a street vending business next to the Labour Offices in Francistown selling sweets and airtime.

She does not have a professional qualification but travelled the 120 kilometres to Francistown from Senete village in search of a better life. But life in the Ghetto has turned out to be hard going.

“I finished my form three in 2009 but have not managed to get a regular job since then. I have tried by all means to look for employment but all the factories I approached were turning me away. So I decided to start this vending business to help make ends meet whilst I continue to apply for jobs and seek gainful employment.

Right now my focus is on growing this vending business. On good days at month end I can make around P250 but on a bad day I’m left with only P50, and unfortunately there are more bad days than good.

As a mother of a three-year-old I am duty bound to ensure that my little girl’s needs are fully met, especially as the father is nowhere to be seen and I get no maintenance. But on average monthly earnings of around P2000 it is difficult to make ends meet.

I pay rent of P500 and spend P1 200 a month on groceries. My monthly expenditure on transport is around P230 while P600 should be channelled towards my child’s fees for crèche. I owe a furniture shop, which I should be repaying in instalments of P500. I also try to assist my parents with at least P300 a month to buy foodstuffs.

You don’t have to be a mathematician to see that I am unable to meet my budget. I have had to drop some of my responsibilities and am forced to bring my little girl with me to work rather than enrol her in a crèche. The furniture shop is on the verge of coming to repossess the bed that I bought on hire purchase, and there are days when food is short and I have to walk to work because there is no money.

The government must come up with ideas and programmes that will help us to have a steady income. The current schemes like CEDA and BDC are not easy to access. President Ian Khama must come to our rescue. We have tried all the tricks, but it is not working.

Nyangane Disho

29-year-old Nyangane Disho of Riverside location said he has been a regular customer at the labour offices for the past three years.

“ I came here from Shakawe five years ago with dreams of a earning a living and sending money home to my family, but the reality has been more like a nightmare.

There is no hope anymore. Every morning I come here optimistic that I will be hired, but the few jobs we find are not regular. We get hired for a day or two, and the money generated from the piece jobs is so little.

In five years the longest period I have worked is just five days. When doing piece jobs I usually get P50 per day. If that was on a regular basis I could survive, but on average I work just three days in a week, and there are times when you can go a week without a job. Before I started coming to the labour offices I used to walk around town looking for work, but had no luck and walking on an empty stomach just made me tired.

The competition for the few jobs available is fierce – nearly all the people from the surrounding villages have migrated to Francistown in search of employment.

During the best months I can earn up to P1 200, but when that drops below P1000 I go hungry. My monthly rent is P450 and I pay child maintenance of P400 – what remains I spend on food. There are no luxuries, not even the occasional beer. When it comes to clothing I thank God for the cheap Chinese stores, although I can’t remember the last time I brought new clothes.

The saddest part of being unemployed was when the mother to my child had to dump me for another man with greater financial muscle. Who can stay with a man without money?

Lillian Thapisang (23) Aerodrome location in Francistown

Lillian Thapisang

“ I am beginning to give up hope of ever getting a job – it is soul destroying. Even when you do get something it is not sustainable, and you work the whole day for P50 or less. I worked for one of the security companies here for two years, but it was as good as if I was not working. The pay was lousy and the job was going nowhere, so I decided to try my luck here.

On average I work for around 10 days in a month, which is P500. As a woman there are certain things you need, but it is embarrassing when a sanitary pad becomes a luxury.

Affording the things that other women take for granted, like going to the hair salon and spending P75, made it a choice between that and eating. If I were to get all the toiletries I need such as perfume, bath soap, face wash and cream, then I might look and smell good, but would starve to death in the process.

After surviving a tough life for ages, I decided to cohabit with my boyfriend. I had no choice – I could not pay rent and buy food with my income. So my boyfriend is the one fending for me.

It is my ambition to start a business, but what can you do with so little money? Efforts to apply for government programmes offered through Citizen Entrepreneurial Developmental Agency (CEDA) and Women’s Affairs (WA) have failed to produce the desired results. The government should focus on youth unemployment before disaster erupts in this country.”

Emmanuel Baaleka (26) of Block II location has resorted to the government’s backyard gardening initiative despite being a Diploma holder in Marketing, Advertising and Public Relations.

Emmanuel Baaleka

He has ventured into horticulture and poultry production at the back of his parents homestead in Francistown. He came up with the idea after failing to secure gainful employment following years of searching.

“It is tough in the employment sector. Finding a job has become more of a miracle than the God given right to work. I am now selling chickens and vegetables.

I can make reasonable money at around P3500 per month, but as a man I am trying to get my own property, and this is difficult with my commitments.

I am the only man in my family and I have to take care of my mother at the village. I need at least P1 500 to buy monthly groceries for the whole family. I am paying a mortgage of P1 000.

I still have to repay the Self Help Housing Agency (SHHA) a loan of about P600 per month. Electricity and water bills every month costs P600 inclusive. It is already over my budget without any sort of entertainment included.

That’s life – its tough out there.”

Ofentse Titose

Ofentse Titose (20) Monarch location, Francistown

“I am just 20-years-old and full of energy. But it is hard to find a job. I am now working part time as a barber. As much as I am looking for a steady job, it is hard to just sit down and think that manna will fall from heaven.

There are very few formal employment opportunities in our country. I charge P25 per haircut. And with the number of salons in town, it is not easy to have a big clientele.

So in a month I can earn maybe P2 000 from the clients I have, but some can’t afford the outlay each month. It seems that getting your hair cut is now a luxury.

I am currently studying Accounting with a private institute and I pay a monthly installment of P800. My rent is P500 inclusive of utilities.

Transport costs P220 while food ranges between P500 and P600 per month. I do not have money to support my parents. I cannot buy myself clothes like other young people of my age.

Life is hard, but I guess I am better off than some.”

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