THE chairperson of the ||Kharas Regional Council, Joseph Isaaks, has expressed dismay over the low employment numbers of locals in the mining and fishing sectors, saying the council will seek employment equity for the region’s inhabitants.
He made the remarks recently at the opening of the year meeting held with regional and local authority councillors, ||Kharas Regional Council staff, representatives of decentralised ministries and agencies at Keetmanshoop.
Isaaks said there was no need to do a survey to confirm that the residents of the region are represented in the bottom 10-20%, while the resources of the region are meant to uplift the living conditions of people resident in the ||Kharas region.
The last population and housing census conducted in 2011 showed that agriculture, forestry and fishing were the main sectors providing 32,4% of jobs, followed by mining and quarrying with 8,9%. The wholesale and retail sector and the construction sector each employed about 6% of the workforce.
“We will be visiting the mines and fishing companies this year to discuss with them why the people of this region are not employed in these companies or their representation is in the bottom 20%. We will ask them where they source the bulk of their employees and why,” said Isaaks.
Isaaks said evidence that the people of the ||Kharas region are not employed there and benefitting from the natural resources of the region, is seen daily in the unemployment and poverty the local people endure.
He called on the authorities in the region that deal with procurement of services to give preference to local companies when awarding tenders and to do due diligence in researching the origins of companies and timelines of joint ventures.
“We have realised that entrepreneurs resident in other regions register companies at Keetmanshoop, Karasburg or Lüderitz immediately when they see a tender advertised for services in a particular area. Those are things where due diligence must be applied to give preference to lift the people of the region out of poverty and improve their living standards,” said Isaaks.
He was, however, quick to note that his instruction should not be seen as saying people from other regions should not obtain jobs or business opportunities in ||Kharas region, but that preference should be given to locals.
For the ||Kharas region, 32,2% of the economically active population aged 15 years and above is unemployed.
The regional council declared 2023 as the year of economic emancipation, as the council is seeking to make inroads in employment creation, housing opportunities, provision of tertiary education and strengthening communal farming.
“We appreciate that president Hage Geingob declared this year as the year of revival. Revival for us in the ||Kharas region means economic emancipation. We will only achieve that through strategic interventions like querying employment equity and ensuring the people benefit from the natural resources the region is endowed with,” said the chairperson.
||Kharas is renowned for its diverse economy, with thriving sectors such as agriculture, mining and fishing. The region is also a high-end profitable tax-generating area for the central government, predominantly from diamond mining.