On the face of it, the Imani programme is a great idea. In fact, if executed without political considerations, the entire nation will benefit from it. The sad reality is that the NNP is using youth unemployment and general poverty as a weapon to help it stay in power.
The main focus of the programme is the stipend, rather than the training. Many young people receive the stipend without having to report to work or training sessions. Once they get used to a regular income, they lose the incentive to seek long term employment and become reliant on government for their sustenance.
In some families, as many as 4 youths are in this situation. It is unlikely that people getting “free” money would do anything to jeopardise the source.
Unscrupulous employers take advantage of the programme by firing established workers who are then replaced by Imanis. Taxpayers’ money is thus used to subsidise private businesses.
Young people, including those with university degrees, are forced to settle for Imani placements, lowly-paid jobs or total unemployment. Business people understand the old adage about not buying cow if one is getting free milk. So, a direct consequence of the current Imani programme is the suppression of wages.
Trade unions are also victims of this NNP setup. Although they do the same jobs as regular workers, Imanis are officially trainees and as such, ineligible for union representation.
Due to the revolving nature of the programme, any union jobs lost are likely to remain that way. It is puzzling that neither the TUC nor any of its members has caught on to that. Then again, Comrade Chess has contracted lock jaw disease since donning Massa’s wig.
It is clear that the Imani programme is nothing but a vote-getting tool: put some money in the youths’ pockets and warn them that voting against NNP will bring an end to the stipend.
Young people must realise that they cannot stay in a training programme indefinitely, even under the NNP.
They won’t stay young forever. They need skills and attitudes that will make them employable and independent, not reliant on government.
A political party that sees the nation’s youths only as voters and not people deserving of sustainable opportunities, must be voted out of power. The youths will then be able to break away from the poverty trap and open a new path towards upward mobility.