By Deogratias Mmana
Pressure is mounting on government to give details of the sectors where it has created close to one million jobs as indicated by President Lazarus Chakwera on Thursday.
Chakwera said in his State of the Nation Address (Sona) that his government has created 997,423 jobs in the 2021-2022 financial year.
This has triggered questions from some Malawians who are demanding evidence for the 997,423 jobs when thousands of employees have lost jobs due to the impact of Covid-19 and economic hardships.
Among other groups, Mzuzu City Youth Caucus has openly penned Chakwera, demanding the evidence, arguing that a lot of youths are jobless.
“So, after hearing you speaking that you have amassed over 900,000 jobs, we wonder how it is even possible because those whom you claim to have been employed are tirelessly lingering around the soils of this country searching for the same fortune,” the letter, signed by the group’s chairperson, Gomezgani Nkhoma, reads.
The Caucus challenges the Malawi leader that if his government has created such jobs, then government institutions like schools and hospitals would have improved in terms of human resources.
The letter concludes: “Your Excellency, we are obligated to know the sectors of the economy that created 997,423 because what you narrated in the Sona does not hold water and is baseless.”
Minister of Labour, Vera Kamtukule, defended Chakwera’s statement, saying jobs are created from various sectors but she also admitted that some jobs have been lost.
“The bulk of the jobs created have been in the construction sector on the many projects government is implementing through the Ministry of Local Government, Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Lands and Housing just to mention a few,” Kamtukule said.
She said other jobs have been created through the Malawi Police Service, the Malawi Defence Force and the health and education sectors.
In the education sector, she said government has employed just over 2,000 primary school teachers.
However, it is on record that over 8,000 teachers trained under Initial Primary Teacher Education (IPTE) 13 and 14 have been pressing government demanding employment.
Kamtukule said: “We realise that some jobs have been lost in the period under review but some have also been created hence the figure.”
She said some jobs are direct while others are indirect through projects.
“A person whose company has been awarded to supply AIP [Affordable Inputs Programme] for example, would get services of a transporter, who will use services of a mechanic, who will use services of a rest house and a restaurant owner. All these will buy airtime and so on,” she said.
Malawi Congress of Trade Unions (MCTU) Secretary General Madalitso Njolomole said his institution was yet to conduct a survey to establish the number of jobs created so far.
During campaign before elections in 2019 and 2020, Chakwera and the alliance partners pledged to create one million jobs within the first year of administration.
On November 26, 2021 during the launch of Presidential Initiative on Job Creation at the Bingu International Convention Centre, Chakwera confessed that it was harder to create one million jobs than anticipated.
“What is honest to say is that although the new jobs we have created in the first year are in the hundreds of thousands instead of a million, the existing jobs we have saved from being lost as collateral damage caused by impacts of the pandemic are also in the hundreds of thousands,” said Chakwera.
In an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in July 2021, Chakwera struggled to explain the creation of one million jobs in one year as promised in the campaign.
He said the impact of about 300,000 jobs created was not felt because about 600,000 people lost their jobs due to companies’ downsizing and foreclosures in the wake of Covid-19.