A GROUP of unemployed graduates from local tertiary institutions have blamed the lack of job opportunities in the country on corruption and nepotism.
Stefanus Matheus, a member of the group, made the statement yesterday at a media event in Windhoek.
At the event, the group announced plans to hold a peaceful demonstration on Friday to petition the Office of the Prime Minister on the issue of frozen government vacancies.
Matheus said corruption in the country was "speeding at about 180 km per hour", and was badly affecting the government's ability to create new job opportunities for young graduates.
He added that nepotism was also a contributing factor to youth unemployment as "people in power are only recruiting their relatives and friends who sometimes are not qualified", leaving qualified people unemployed.
Furthermore, money lost by the government through corrupt activities was supposed to be used to create jobs.
"Millions of dollars have been lost through ghost employees in government, which could have been for real employees who are currently sitting at home. People are resigning every year, yet there is a continued blockage of employment.
"It is our belief that the job cuts and austerity measures implemented by the government are not an absolute necessity, but rather a deliberate choice to allow looting and corruption for the well-connected and those in power," Matheus stressed.
He added that corruption was bankrupting the government, and attributed the economic crunch in the country for the past two years to graft.
"We have a lot of resources in the country, but they are not benefiting our people. The country is currently broke because the money is going into the pockets of individuals," he reiterated.
The government has suspended most new recruitments since 2016 in an effort to reduce the public wage bill, which accounts for almost half of the national budget.
The Bank of Namibia has also advised the government this year to implement several short-term measures, among them freezing salary increases and hiring, as well as implementing an effective tax collection system.
The Namibian reported earlier this year that Namibia's unemployment rate was estimated to be 37,3 % in 2017, up from the 34% registered in 2016.
The unemployment rate among the youth, between the ages of 15 and 34, was reportedly 43,4% in 2017.
It was also reported that there were more than 246 000 unemployed youth, out of the total labour force of 570 000 in 2017.
Namibia has about 67 000 unemployed graduates.
Another member of the group, Tuna Shikongo, said the situation was so bad that they were "hungry, angry and desperate for jobs".
She said the government should listen to them and create more jobs, adding that she also wanted "corrupt government officials" to be brought to book, and to account for lost public resources.
"We are forever told that education is the key. How do we motivate our fellow young people to study and attain qualifications when there are no job opportunities for them?" Shikongo asked.
"Collectively, we have been observing the continuous looting of our state coffers. Those missing funds were to create employment, or to be given to young people as start-up capital to establish their businesses and create employment, yet they spit in our faces and insult our intelligence", she stressed.
Shikongo added that they have mobilised other unemployed graduates in Windhoek and those in the regions to petition the government on Friday.
"Ours is to seek answers to questions that the government has been hiding. We have collectively agreed to carry a collective voice to demand clarity from those we elected into power," she said.