By Jameson Chauluka & Serah Chilora:
Government claims that 12,762 jobs were created but 761 people lost their jobs in the formal sector during the first half of the 2022-23 financial year from April to September.
A report on employment statistics from the Ministry of Labour shows that, out of the 12,762 employed people, 7,063 are males, representing 55 percent, while 5,699 are females, representing 45 percent.
The report, however, says a majority of the 761 people who lost their jobs are women, at 427, representing 56 percent, while 334 are men, representing 44 percent.
The statistics are from 461 workplaces but the government calls for more workplaces to furnish it with data on issues of employment.
“In order to improve the response rate, more follow-ups and call-backs are required to ensure that many workplaces are submitting employment data. It is important that a system of ensuring regular provision of employment data is instituted and this should be supported with the review of the employment laws to include a clause that enforces regular submission of employment data,” the report reads.
According to the report, if jobs in the informal sector, which contributes up to 89 percent of the workforce to the job market, were to be included in the calculations, then a total of 112, 000 jobs can be said to have been created in the first half of the year.
Employers Consultative Association of Malawi Executive Director George Khaki could not corroborate the statistics from the Ministry of Labour, saying they do not know the metholody government used in collecting the data.
“All we can say is that we, as a country, do not have a fully functional market labour system. If the system were transparent, everyone could have access to it and it would give confidence to all stakeholders. That is what we, as an association, have been pushing for,” he said.
But Khaki said the first half of the 2022-23 financial year has been difficult for employers economically.
“The operating economic environment has been tough. With the prevailing foreign exchange challenges, we are unable to import finished goods or import raw materials, which means that we are not producing at the level we ought to be doing,” he said.
In February this year, President Lazarus Chakwera came under fire for telling Parliament that his administration had created 997,000 jobs but Minister of Labour Vera Kamtukule defended him, saying the jobs that had been created included both permanent and non-permanent ones.
“Our job creation [data] has been based on the International Labour Organisation (ILO)’s definition of employment. ILO defines ‘an employed person’ as a person aged 15 years or older who has worked for pay or profit for at least one hour during a given week or having a job from which being absent under conditions such as holiday, sick leave, maternity leave or duration [may result in economic loss],” she said.
She also said that definition covers employees, the self-employed, family workers or even illegal immigrants who secure jobs.