Inside Namibia’s unemployment dilemma

• By Tracy Tafirenyika

After being successful business owners for many years, entrepreneurs are struggling to come to grips with the sad reality of being unemployed while their businesses continue to collapse.

In an interview with a few business owners whose businesses have gone from earning millions to closing down, former athlete Sakaria Shifotoka details some of the harsh conditions he had to endure after losing business.

“I was a successful athlete for more than 15 years but now I am a street vendor something that I had to accept and live with. I used to make money. I started running in 2008 but how I got here is that, when Covid-19 came l stopped running and it was difficult for me to go and compete outside Namibia. I did not have funds to go and compete as well and l decided to become a street vendor for survival,” he said.

Shifotoka now sells soft drinks such as water and juice at China town robots and is currently staying at the outskirts of Havanna.

He further explained that he is not satisfied with his profession yet as he also wants to take part in the international Olympic games, world champion and common wealth games.

Meanwhile, the Black Business Leadership Network of Namibia (BBLNN) chairperson Eliphas Simon also stated his company was also liquidated when covid-19 came into existence while blaming the government for being sidelined as a black business owner.

“Covid-19 came like wildfire and its effect was very technical and scientific. It ravaged everything starting from the imports, our day to day operational activities, rent to salaries as well as taxis, it is very difficult to sometimes know what the best remedy to our problems is. The pandemic made us very difficult in order to keep our place afloat. No one in the country new what impact Covid-19 will have on local business enterprise.

“Our government went on to close certain towns and certain businesses infrastructures which left many businesses as well as my business with no option but to close down. With initiative that the government in order to address the pandemic and public businesses, loans funds that were given by Bank of Namibia to banks like DBN was unsuccessful for our businesses to get. The requirements for those loans was impossible for our SME’s to qualify to get the loan,” he stated.

Simon furthermore added that, he N$750 grant that the government opted to give members of the public never helped anything.

“I am still to know how the grant benefitted the state chauffeurs as a return of investment. No stimulus package that was offered by local banks fund an uptake as it all dimmed to have been an expensive exercise which is likely to deeper one’s financial obligation and liability,” he stated.

Taxi driver who earned N$400 in a day after turning his car into a public transport vehicle Erasmus Hamukwaya said sustaining petrol for his car has become almost impossible due to the increase and the economic downturn.

“As a taxi driver l used to earn more than N$1000 per day, but now because of the fuel increase and everything l am really struggling to make ends meets. The taxi industry is heavly affected and our government is totally doing nothing regarding the situation. The taxi fare is still at N$13 while it is supposed to increase due to the fuel increase.

“Since Covid-19 started everything has been out of order when it comes to business, many people have stopped driving their taxis and parked them at home, it is a waste of time not profiting anything. We are just driving in the sake of working but we are really suffering,” he stated.