This week saw hundreds of job hunters flocking to one of the textile factories at Thetsane Industrial Area in the fervent hope of landing the ever so elusive employment opportunities as Victoria Hotel operators announced the closure of the facility, condemning tens of employers into the unemployment wilderness.
Those who witnessed the Thetsane factory spectacle from close by described it as a horrendous scene where the job-seekers crowded the factory entrance resulting in a vicious stampede that almost resulted with some getting serious injuries or even losing their lives.
By the time the factory’s security guard delivered the unpleasant that the factory was unfortunately not hiring as had been widely suggested, the restless crowd had already taken down the factory gate in what could be construed as property vandalism.
Another look can tell that this was a desperate attempt by the job-hunters to get to the front to stand a chance of being handpicked by the employer.
However, in the end all that shoving and striving turned out to be nothing as the job hopefuls walked home empty-handed.
Following the incident, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Business Development released an equally demoralising statement to thousands of job hopefuls that jobs are not yet forth-coming. They will have to wait.
“The Ministry wishes to inform the public that it is aware of misleading claims on different media platforms that a factory called Duty Free Sourcing located at Thetsane Industrial Area is hiring. The ministry will notify the public about the recruitment process of this factory through proper communication channels.
“Reports that indicate that it is currently hiring are inaccurate and highly prejudicial to job seekers who are traveling long distances based on incorrect information. Therefore, the ministry apologies for any inconvenience that may be caused by these erroneous reports.”
This unfortunate episode is one of several vivid yet chilling indicators of the severity of the unemployment scourge in the country.
The authorities have pledged to create employment especially in the textile factories starting from January 2024, which gives the impression that the talk of the said factory hiring may emanate from such kind of announcements.
Trade Minister Mokhethi Shelile, last year told the national assembly that jobs in the textile industry had declined from 53 000 in 2003 to just 25 000 in 2023, and revealed a plan for his ministry to restore the lost jobs.
“We have started a new program called the Textile Industry Revitalisation Programme (TIRP), and it has been approved by the Cabinet. The Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC) was instructed to make funds to the value of M10 million available for textile industry.
“We are expecting that from the beginning of next year (2024) for the employment processes to begin, and it is expected that with orders and funds available, about 2,000 jobs will be created by the end of January.”
The minister had better keep his word of kick- starting 2024 with a flurry of job opportunities for the desperate and desolate masses, who hang onto his every word for the hope of finally getting employed.
There is no telling where the unemployment crisis will end up if authorities continue making promises they can hardly keep.