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BE: NEED TO DECLARE STATE OF EMERGENCY ON JOBS

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MANZINI – “The joblessness out there is so severe that we need to declare a state of emergency on jobs,” says Business Eswatini (BE).

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of BE, Nathi Dlamini, said this when sought for comment regarding the introduction of the National Labor Migration Policy (NLMP). The CEO said the frustration of young professionals had now reached an untenable crescendo. Dlamini said the country needed investors badly and its policies must be seen to reflect that desperation.
“It is time to lower the artificial barriers we have unwittingly erected because they are slowing down our job creation effort. As it is, we have enough social problems without having to create new ones,” Dlamini said. He said the NLMP sought to provide the legal framework for the unhindered movement of persons into and out of the country for employment purposes.
He said this was necessary as business competitiveness at shop floor-level and at national level, was driven by skills, some of which may not be easily available locally.

Framework

In light of this, Dlamini said there was a need for a legal framework to allow for the hassle-free movement of critical skills across sovereign territories, more especially with the advent of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) or commerce without borders. He said the labour migration was a topical issue worldwide and BE has had the privilege to weigh in on the matter through the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Private Sector Forum. Dlamini said: “It’s possible that the policy under consideration here in Eswatini may affect certain business sectors. The extent of its effects will very much depend on the analysis of our skills benchmarks and skills mismatch reports.” The CEO went on to say there was a necessity to appreciate that the aim of any business was to be competitive in order to thrive or even at worse, survive. To achieve this, he said, businesses needed skilled personnel regardless of where the skills may come from, but better sourced locally if available though.

Robotics

For example, Dlamini said, if a company needed a robotics or artificial intelligence engineer, it would not matter where that skill came from, as long as it could be found - somewhere.  He said the NLMP therefore sought to address matters like that. The CEO said if there were sectors where Eswatini, as a country, had enough requisite skills to achieve business goals, then there would be no need to import any skill at all.  “That being said though, we desperately need a critical skills list in the country because we have seen the pandemonium being wreaked by its absence. The manner in which we handle work permits in the country is a clear signal to foreign investors that they are not welcomed here.”

He said it was as if there was full employment in the country and it needed no one. Dlamini said the approach was weird because there was a dire need for foreign direct investment (FDI) but without foreigners. The CEO said it was a self-defeating approach that would worsen the unemployment situation. Dlamini said companies were hesitant of coming down to invest largely because they knew that to get a work permit in this country was like pulling out teeth. “While localisation is critical and we take it very seriously here at BE, we are, however, not so foolhardy as to be unmindful that we must first have these foreign direct investors well established in the country first; let them create the jobs we desperately need here, before we can talk about localising anything.” He said businesses generally employed as per labour market needs, if they or anyone else for that matter possessed the requisite skills they should be able to penetrate the local market.

Migration

Dlamini said the NLMP provided for migration for employment purposes. He said the citizenship issue was a completely different matter and not provided for in the policy. “Countries with NLMP ( which have been influenced by regional and international instruments), make it easier for that country to negotiate in terms of what is termed Bilateral Labour Agreements with other countries and agree  on migration and its terms and conditions for purposes of employment.” On Tuesday, this publication reported that there was a new policy set to control the movement of people seeking to work outside Eswatini, while ensuring their reintegration into local labour markets upon return. This follows that Eswatini has adopted the National Labour Migration Policy (NLMP) as supplemented by an action (implementation) plan. This policy will ensure that migrant workers and their dependants shall have their social security benefits easily carried out. The policy, which is due to be submitted to Cabinet for approval, has since been discussed and adopted by the tripartite Labour Advisory Board (LAB). The policy, once approved, will ensure the reintegration of emaSwati who have been working outside the country as it shall assist them in rejoining the local labour markets.

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