Job losses need not become a national disaster


Yesterday I got the opportunity to listen to an interesting programme on StarFM radio in which lawyer, author and motivational speaker Mr Arthur Marara spoke passionately about the need for people to speak positively about themselves and the environment in which they live so that they create a better day and a solid tomorrow for themselves.

I agreed with him because words have creative power. Our daily experience is a result of words we spoke into our lives or that were spoken by people upon our lives or circumstances yesterday or even when we were growing up.

The radio programme, co-hosted by Ayati and Tariro, resonated well with what has been happening in this country, particularly over the last few weeks since the Supreme Court ruling that seemed to have provided an olive branch for many employers in this country.

The loss of jobs by thousands of people has left many grumbling, murmuring and saying even four-letter words to themselves, their former bosses or whoever they think might have had a hand in their sacking.

However, this has tended to blur their vision on opportunities that the whole situation may have presented to them.

I firmly believe that every challenge presents with it opportunities.

While it is obviously traumatising or shocking for one to get a letter of termination of employment when they least expected it, I feel those affected need to desist from finger-pointing and the blame-game but should instead focus on doing business even in a challenging environment such as Zimbabwe’s presently.

The immediate reaction of shock, disbelief, anger and a feeling that the world has come to an end may be understandable in the flesh but life must go on for the thousands that find themselves out of employment today. More and sometimes better opportunities lie ahead.

Many of these people have skills acquired and perfected throughout the years as workers and these can be employed to run small projects where possible.

If the thousands of jobs that were lost could be turned into thousands of micro and small businesses, the economy would benefit immensely.

It is obviously easier said than done but the truth of the matter is that this has to be done. There is not much choice.

To survive the present circumstances, one need not expend too much time crying over spilt milk which they cannot do anything about but should instead be driven into starting one business or the other.

Companies such as Old Mutual, have monthly seminars during which they teach people on how to invest their money wisely.

For some, their terminal benefits may run into thousands of dollars while for others it could be a few hundreds depending on the nature and grade of their previous employment but be that as it may, investments can still be made even with the most negligible of amounts.

This could be a life-transforming experience to which they could look back one day and thank God for.

Indeed while we do commiserate with those that have suddenly found themselves out of employment, we feel they could do themselves and the nation at large a huge favour if they could quickly engage themselves in activities that will have an impact in improving the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

The operating environment is indeed quite harsh as markets dwindle and pockets run dry faster than before, but even in such circumstances many businesses are not only surviving but making reasonable profits.

A bit of research and self assessment in terms of one’s strengths and weaknesses could help in making decisions on the project one may do well in.

We also encourage companies to subcontract such aspects as catering, or cleaning or stationery procurement to some of their former employees where possible so that the exercise does not become a national disaster but something that will culminate in more rewarding ventures and relationships.

Zimbabweans are known for their never-say-die attitude that saw them conquer the economic troubles of 2008-2009 with much aplomb.

Indeed, the fact that many are still on their two feet to this day given the challenges in the economy is also nothing but a miracle in itself.

This characteristic needs to be applied at this juncture to bring light and life where hope was fading.

Our sister paper, The Sunday Mail, recently carried a story of a man who died after his business was destroyed by the fire that engulfed the Glen View informal business complex a few weeks ago.

This is not a story we would want to read about again. This is a story we hope will not be replicated as those found at their wits’ end due to job losses begin to warm up to opportunities that life has presented to them.

We sincerely hope that though hugely constrained by liquidity challenges, the Government should be able to re-establish or consolidate existing facilities for small businesses so that these people and many other may access funding via such platforms as the Small Enterprise Development Corporation and others largely under Minister Stembiso Nyoni’s purview.

The private sector, made up of large and medium-sized corporate citizens, could also come up with strategies to economically empower these people.

Such organisation as the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce, the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, small business organisations, women organisations and others could come up with training and empowerment programmes or facilities to offer a soft landing to the thousands upon thousands that find themselves on the streets today.

This will ameliorate the side-effects of such job losses and re-ignite business activity in cases where many have been seeing nothing else but doom and gloom.

Government, though financially constrained, could even offer tax incentives or other such to those organisation that provide a net to those affected by the job cuts.

While every company and individual alike is pre-occupied with ensuring their own survival, more will be gained by adopting the smart partnership and prosper-thy-neighbour concept that was launched in Malaysia years ago to ensure a well-knit system that does not leave the vulnerable to die or just fizzle out, but to instead, give a buffer that will result in a win-win situation.

The fact that the economy will slow down to 1,7 percent growth makes the whole situation more complicated but prospects of a brighter tomorrow should always urge us on to remain positive and optimistic and in the process create the kind of energy that we require to move our country forward.

In God I Trust!

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