LETTERS: Should the labour ministry be handling employment issues?

The comments about the public service and labour minister’s statement suggest she is contemptuous of the Rwandan youth. I don’t see how that conclusion can be arrived at, going by her comments alone.

Editor,

RE: “At this rate, bakeries will run out of cakes” (The New Times, October 31).

 

The comments about the public service and labour minister’s statement suggest she is contemptuous of the Rwandan youth. I don’t see how that conclusion can be arrived at, going by her comments alone.

 

There are two core statements in her quote: “Anyone who is hungry will create a job” and “Those who create jobs don’t do it for the sake of the leaders”. The first part deals with necessity as the motivator for economic self-empowerment while the second deals with what in Nigeria we refer to as “eye-service”, i.e. doing things for show, for applause...

 

I understand the sentiment behind these two components. I partially disagree with the first, and completely agree with the second. Yes, those who create jobs do it for profit, not for eye-service. The private sector is a profit-driven world. If it does not benefit them to create a job for you, the job will not be created.

Rwanda is not yet an ideal environment, though — it is a journey. In African countries, the reality is “most who are hungry, who cannot get a job, and who cannot create a job, or who cannot sustain themselves sufficiently with their job, tend to turn to crime”. This is why I view unemployment as a national security issue.

Employment is not and should not be within the scope of a labour ministry. The root of the drama here is the misconception that it is the task of the minister in charge labour to provide employment to the youth. This is a naive view, to put it mildly.

Spending over week criticising the minister for her comments will not bring anybody who is unemployed closer to gaining employment or self-employment. All it serves is to vent frustrations. Nothing more.

There are cries to reform that ministry, but to what end? Based on which specifics? Will the desired reform somehow be such that the day all the unemployed Rwandans will wake up to the magnificence of 100 per cent national employment? How?

Employment should be removed from the ministry in charge of labour, taken out of the ministerial governance structure and moved into the fundamental scope of a national employment agency, autonomous of the labor ministry, and headed by a cabinet-level position.

I know how extremely difficult it is to find employment in Rwanda. It is understandable that this leads to tempers flaring and emotions getting the better of people. But once the smoke clears, what is it that needs to be done, beyond agitating rhetoric?

What are the structures, processes and frameworks that need to be developed and implemented? Rwanda is primarily an agrarian economy. The majority of Rwanda’s workforce operates outside of the formal economy. Billions in tax revenue is not being realised because of this. This contributes to unemployment.

We are trying to leapfrog from an agrarian society to an ICT-powered knowledge-based economy. The success of such a national economic undertaking is ultimately measured in how many Rwandans are successfully transitioned from a farming community to a knowledge-based middle-income economy, where agriculture is a regionally relevant and modern industry.

This is the biggest and most important project since the liberation of Rwanda
 
Dayo Ntwari

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