YouthDecide Campaign, a grouping of civil society organizations advancing rights of the youth in Malawi, has asked the Malawi government and its watchdog institutions to institute credible investigations into the “shambolic” walk-in recruitment process that ended up creating a deadly stampede at Katoto in Mzuzu.
The Ministry of Health on Tuesday conducted a walk-in interviews to identify young men and women for possible recruitment into various cadres, including health surveillance assistants (HSAs) and others.
Tens of thousands of the youths turned up for the interviews in almost all the district councils, effectively exposing the seriousness of unemployment in Malawi.
In Mzuzu, the large queues, which did not observe the measures for the fighting the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), ended into a pandemonium, which left 10 got seriously injured. They were later rushed to Mzuzu Central Hospital.
The development has angered the Youth-Decide Campaign, which is now demanding that the brains behind the arrangement of the walk-in interviews should be held accountable for “their horrendous way of transacting State business”.
“We are utterly appalled by the dehumanising and life-threatening recruitment exercise of HSAs by the Malawi Government through the Ministry of Health. We strongly condemn preventable injuries suffered by scores of job seekers during today’s stampede in Mzuzu where thousands of youth were jostling for job opportunities in the civil service. The whole exercise mirrors horrifying incompetence by government and its agents at the Ministry of Health,” Youth-Decide Campaign team leader Charles Kajoloweka says in a letter issued a few hours after the incident.
“We demand that the people linked to this disgrace and contempt of jobless Malawians should be suspended pending the outcome of the inquiry into this act of gross incompetence and negligence,” he adds.
Kajoloweka stresses that the Campaign detests the stampede and the degrading queues witnessed in this shambolic ‘walk-in’ recruitment exercise as a shocking personification of massive youth unemployment in the country.
He says the horrors of unemployment faced by the youth often pushed into underemployment should convict both politicians and policymakers for failing to fulfil their profuse promises to create jobs for young Malawians.
“Undoubtedly, this awful recruitment exercise, by design, has also denied vulnerable groups such as young persons with disability and young women the employment opportunity as they cannot withstand such hostile environment. This is unacceptable and insensitive to inclusive development. We refuse to downplay this is just a one-off incident because it has happened in just one sector with a despicable vacancy rate and a high disease burden while thousands of skilled trainees are loafing with requisite certificates in their pockets. If the government can do this to the life-saving sector, we shudder to imagine what is happening in other sectors that hide in plain sight,” Kajoloweka states.
He further condemns what he calls the state-orchestrated indifference to the rights and lives of the youth displayed during the messy walk-in recruitment exercise, which exposes a worrying contempt of the country’s neglected youthful majority.
While emphasizing that youth deserve better, Kajoloweka calls upon young people to vote for credible and selfless leaders who have the key to unlock job opportunities instead of using their desperation to score political points,
He demands that government should halt the ‘walk-in’ recruitment of HSAs forthwith and shortlist qualified candidates for youth-friendly interviews to avoid further stampedes likely to lead to injuries and loss of lives of the youth disproportionately affected by high unemployment rates despite ceaseless political rhetoric.
He urges the Ministry of Health to revert to credible laid down recruitment procedures.
“We demand that the Ministry of Health should stop exposing the youth to COVID-19 transmission by halting the ill-timed scrambles convening thousands of job-seekers despite a ban on gatherings of at least 50 people.
“Instead of putting people at risk of contracting or transmitting the fast-spreading virus, the Ministry of Health should be in the forefront obeying the COVID-19 preventive protocols it imposes on the nation. Stop the suicidal mix-up sanitised as job opportunities until a credible process is put in place to avert the crisis witnessed in Mzuzu,” Kajoloweka writes.
He further calls upon the Malawi Government to operationalise Harnessing the Population Dividend, the blueprint launched in 2016, which promises the youth majority access to relevant skills and decent jobs to end dependency syndrome and desperation likely to perpetuate indignities witnessed in Mzuzu today.
“We further call upon Government to pay attention to the National Youth Manifesto, a consolidated statement of the governance and development aspirations and demands of young people in Malawi on strategic issues including jobs for youth. Young people should take advantage of the forthcoming fresh presidential election to elect leaders who can turn around their misfortunes and economic prospects,” emphasizes Kajoloweka.
The Minister of Health and Population Jappie Mhango has since apologized to the nation for the shambolic interviews.
Mhango, who addressed journalists in Lilongwe a few hours ago, admitted that authorities at the Capital Hill are the ones who arranged the interviews.
But the minister did not commit himself to disclose the measures they put in place to protect the legions of young people that attended the interviews from contracting Covid-19.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :