Two million jobs and the tragedy of dependent literates

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By Charles T.M.J. Dube

WHERE are the two million jobs you promised us?
This has become a common cry from the opposition and some circles in the ruling party.
Some people are expecting to get two million jobs on a silver platter and get on with their wage employment.
However, in all honesty, who thinks in a capitalist environment where the means of production are in the hands of private individuals, it is possible to come up with such miracle jobs from the government?
I feel compelled to bring us to some reality check.
In a capitalist environment, the government can only take stock of national resources and produce what is called an Indicative Plan that provides a framework within which citizens can go about their investment choices to attain common objectives.
Even if they see scope for creating two million jobs, it is the citizenry which must have a go at realising those targets and as we have been pointing out in this series, each one of us has his own strong points which he must put to play to create the jobs.
Of course, there will always be those jobs within its ambit to create as it fulfills those responsibilities that can only be done by government or the public sector.
On February 6 2014, The Patriot ran an article on the government’s blueprint, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim-ASSET).
In his foreword, President Robert Mugabe says, the agenda of social transformation, “is crafted to achieve sustainable development and social equity anchored on indigenisation, empowerment and employment creation which will be largely propelled by the judicious exploitation of the country’s abundant natural and human resources.”
Four strategic clusters have been identified: Food Security and Nutrition; Social Services and Poverty Eradication; Infrastructure and Utilities and Value Addition and Beneficiation.
Therein lies the cue for the two million jobs.
In the ant analogy, we spoke of each one of us achimira panzvimbo and go on with the job, playing their part.
More than what government has done and not done, what has each one of us done about the task at hand?
This is of course not to absolve the government from playing its part in the equation.
Some citizens have put emphasis on what Zim-ASSET fails to address.
Astute enterprising citizens must be able to draw their investment choices from what the document adequately addresses and or fails to address.
Those hunting for opportunities go beyond what has been made bare.
The document contains a situations analysis on a sector-by-sector basis.
There are obvious gaps to be fulfilled by government or other stakeholders.
All those constitute opportunities.
Or is it something to do with our curriculum?
While we pride ourselves as having the highest literacy rate in Africa, we have probably produced the most dependent literates, trained to work and never to create.
Most of us have gone to school to be empowered to seek better paying jobs and never to be tooled to make a living out of schooling and improve on the lot of the less enterprising among us.
So is it the education system that makes us sell our labour to companies which make a profit out of our sweat?
Surely it can only be more to do with the way we have been conditioned.
The problem lies with our mindsets; although our curriculum could be reviewed to not only address the mindset, but equip us with life skills to look to ourselves for a living and not die of despair in the event of nobody offering us a job.
As I pondered over this article, I somehow got fixated on how we grew up herding cattle.
We never got lessons on how to look after cattle.
At times we took our cattle into the deep of the wilderness, never to come back till evening surviving on ‘eats’ from the wild.
At times when the cattle went astray, we could determine which direction to ‘hunt’ for them by simply putting saliva on our palms and then following the direction the saliva directed us.
That was law of probability for there was always the risk the saliva could point to the opposite direction.
We still did not mind and accepted that as the hazard of our decision-making formula.
During the agricultural off seasons, cattle were simply let out of the pen to wonder as they pleased.
Sunset at around 4pm was the average time to start rounding up the herd and we always had them penned by 6pm.
Invariably, we did not find them and got some hiding for it.
At times we based our decisions on where to hunt on the behavioural patterns of our cattle studied over time.
This is how it is in venturing into business.
There is always an element of risk and our cultural up-bringing and role-plays exposed us to risk-taking.
Our formal education seems to have killed all this with education assuming the position of an insurance policy for an assured wage-earning vocation.
In Economics 101, we had this graph which plotted profitability against risk taking.
It was an upward sloping curve and at the zero risk taking co-ordinate was a zero profit.
The higher the risk, the higher the expectation, so the theory goes.
The state of the economy is where it is today because we have a paucity of risk-takers.
Of course, there are other factors like the predominance of a get-rich quick mindset which is devoid of any morality across all the social strata and sanctions.
After writing this article, I got a ride from a self-employed young man who never looked for a job after completing his secondary education in the 1990s.
I told him I had just written an article on the two million jobs as to who should create them.
“It is we the people of course,” he said before attacking the current crop of businessmen who borrow money for business, only to end up building mansions before failing to pay back the loans.
There were those who got into irrigation schemes, only to end up vandalising the pipes and selling them.
How about those who wrote beautiful project documents and never bought the machinery for their candle-making or other projects after getting loans.
He went to town criticising the mindset of even supposed beneficiaries of Government-aided self-help schemes.
According to him, the Government was not the problem, but the people it sought to assist.
Therefore, it is every citizen’s responsibility to create the economy and jobs we cherish.
For this, we will need an overhaul of our mindsets. We need to think outside the box.
Charles T.M.J. Dube is a Development Economist and Social Scientist.

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