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Botswana records over 200 000 job seekers

About 200 000 Batswana are actively seeking employment while 68 000 have given up on getting a job.  This is according to Statistics Botswana, who this week released results of a first of its kind Quarterly Multi-Topic Survey on Labour Force.  

Conducted in the third quarter of 2019 the findings of the survey were gauged against 2015/16 Botswana Multi-Topic Household Survey (BMTHS). The QMTS has revealed that Labour force increased 12.4 percent between 2015/16 and the third quarter of 2019. This was accompanied by increases of 8.1 percent and 32.5 percent of the employed and unemployed labour force, respectively. This resulted in a 3.3 percentage increase in the employment to population ratio over the period, from 47.4 percent in 2015/16 to 50.7 percent in quarter three of 2019.

Key to these findings is the country’s Unemployment rate which has gone up by 3.1 percentage points between the two periods, from 17.6 to 20.7 percent. The youth labour force increased by 12.7 percent, from 427, 089 in 2015/16 to 481, 441 in the third quarter of 2019. This was accompanied by an increase of 1.6 percentage points increase in youth unemployment rate, from 25.1 to 26.7 percent. The Youth not in Education, not in Employment or Training (NEET Rate %) decreased from 39.9 to 35.2 percent between the two periods.

Deliberating on the study, Statistics Botswana Manager on Labour and Poverty, Moffat Malepa explained that his organization conducted the Quarterly Multi-Topic Survey (QMTS), beginning July 2019. The QMTS was the second multi modular survey following the Botswana Multi-Topic Household Survey (BMTHS), which was conducted in 2015/16. Broadly, the QMTS combined the Labour Force, Information Communication Technology and Core Welfare Indicators surveys.

The aim of QMTS is to produce quarterly estimates on Labour Force Indicators and other key policy variables, which will be rotated based on the stakeholder needs and national priorities. The QMTS collected data on Labour Force activities following the 19th International Conference for Labour Statisticians resolutions of 2013. Malepa shared that one of the key resolutions at the 2013 conference was that persons are considered employed only if they work for payment and/or profit gain. 

“This implies that persons engaged in subsistence farming are not considered to be in employment. Activities of producing goods & services mainly for own final use by household are not included under employment,” he said. Statistics Botswana explained that the primary objective of the 2019 QMTS was to provide a comprehensive set of indicators for labour market and poverty.

The set of indicators derived from the QMTS will provide Labour Market indicators required for the Labour Market Information System set up by the Human Resource Development Council on a regular basis and indicators that will guide the Poverty Eradication Strategy and poverty eradication programs implemented by the stakeholders.

“The plan is to conduct the QMTS continually, every quarter, to provide indicators for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Vision 2036, National Development Plan 11 (NDP11)(and subsequent NDPs), and Africa Agenda 2063,” explained Moffat Malepa.
A detailed look at the latest figures reveals that the estimated total labour force aged 15 years and above, clocked 940, 546 persons, comprising of 470, 793 or 50.1 percent  females, and 469, 753 or 49.9 % males.

Out of a total of 194, 990 job seekers, 52.2 percent (101, 799) were females, compared with 47.8 percent (93, 190 males). Females outnumbered males in the labour force, and were the highest contributors to the currently unemployed labour force with 101, 799 individuals compared with 93, 190 males. In terms of population aged 18 years and above, the total was estimated at 1,436,813 of which 934,338 were economically active and 502,477 were economically inactive. The economically active consisted of 742,792 employed individuals and 191,546 unemployed.

The 2019/20 July to September Quarterly Multi Topic Survey estimated the overall Employment to Population Ratio of 47.4 percent, with males and females recording 51.3 and 44.0 percent respectively. The Employment to Population Ratio (EPR) reflects the extent to which a country’s population is growing compared with creation of employment, that is, EPR is an indicator showing the ability of the economy to provide employment to its growing population.

A decline in EPR may be considered as an indication of economic slowdown. A high EPR value means that a large proportion of a country’s population is employed, while a low value means that a large share of the population is not involved directly in market-related production activities, either because they are unemployed or more likely out of the labour force altogether.

In terms of total labour force participation rate (LFPR) by age group between males and females Statistics Botswana estimated that for the period July – September 2019 the rate was 59.8 percent, with males recording 64.0 percent as compared to 56.2 percent recorded by females. Statistics Botswana experts explained that LFPR reflects the extent to which a country’s working age group is economically active. The labour force participation rate is a measure of the proportion of a country’s working age population that engages actively in the labour market, either by working or looking for work.

LFPR also provides an indication of the size of the supply of labour available to engage in the production of goods and services, relative to the population of working age group. For both males and females, participation rate in economic activity was prominent for age groups between 25-29 and 45-49 years. The highest rate was recorded for age group 35-39 at 82.1 percent, followed by age groups 40-44 and 30-34 with 81.3 and 80.2 percent respectively. From age group 55-59, the rate declined gradually until it reached 9.2 percent for age group 75 and above.

The 2019/20 QMTS recorded a total of 745,556 employed persons of which 376,563 (50.5 percent) were males; and 368,993 were females , accounting for 49.5 percent, during the first three months of the survey, being July to September 2019.
Comparing the third quarter 2019 (July to September 2019) of the 2019/20 QMTS with the 2015/16 annualized BMTHS shows that there has been an increase in total employment. Total employment increased from 689,528 persons to 745, 556 persons. This is an increase of 8.1 percent (56,028 persons)

In terms of earnings the survey found out that the average earnings for Professionals were the highest recording P12,455, followed by Managers and Technicians & Associate Professionals with P11,122 and P10,171 respectively. Elementary occupations average earnings were lowest recording P1,286 as these include jobs which are mostly unskilled.

Average earnings for citizens were estimated at P5, 117 while P12, 794 was recorded for non-citizens and P5, 404 for all employees. In almost all the industries males dominated females in terms of having higher average earnings, except in few industries like Real Estate Activities, Arts, Entertainment and Recreation, Health, Extraterritorial Organisations.

Males recorded P6, 729 while females earn P4, 178 in total formal sector employment monthly average cash earnings. Comparing the third quarter 2019 estimated average cash earning from the 2019/20 QMTS Formal Sector Employment with the Fourth quarter 2018 Formal Sector Employment Survey (FSES) shows that there was a decrease in average earnings.

Fourth Quarter FSES monthly average cash earnings for Citizens was 6,206, while for 2019 QMTS was 5,117, for Non-Citizens was 20,374, from QMTS was 12,794, for all Employees was 6,533, while for QMTS was 5,404. The results of the 2019/20 Botswana Quarterly Multi Topic Survey estimated total unemployed of the actively seeking employment population at 194,990. The discouraged job seekers as were estimated at 68,654.

The total of the seeking and not seeking stood at 263, 644 persons who were without jobs in the seven day reference period. This is defined as the relaxed unemployment. Of these, 74.0 percent were actively seeking work and 26.0 percent were discouraged job seekers. Overall unemployment rate was estimated at 20.7 percent. The estimate relates to individuals who were actively seeking work during the reference period. The unemployment rate including the relaxed job seekers was estimated at 26.1 percent.

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P500 million Tshesebe-Masunga road dispute lands in Court

25th January 2021
500-Million-Tshesebe-Masunga-road-on-a-stand-still

The Tshesebe-Mosojane-Masunga road estimated costs stand at P500 million, the tender which was awarded to Bash Carriers in 2017 has not taken shape four years after the project was commissioned.

Tshesebe-Mosojane-Masunga road when it was commissioned, was estimated at P500 million in value, this included construction of 22.50km of the two lane carriage way and 28.70km of access roads including associated bridge works, cross drainage works, storm water drainage works and relocation of services.

When it was first tendered the contract was awarded to Bash Couriers but was terminated after it was alleged that the contractor failed to deliver. It was said that Bash Couriers Construction Company was lagging behind schedule.

This publication visited the sites of Tshesebe-Masunga road last year December and it was evident that the project was at a standstill as deserted machinery on site could be seen with the gravel road also in a devastating state.

Information revealed then indicated that there had been issues of mining rights for aggregates, availability of structural engineers and manpower and a criteria for awarding tender to the specific company when the contract was terminated.

In 2016, as part of the ESP projects, government funded the 25 kilometres (Km) road project to link Tshesebe and Masunga.

Construction of the road, which also connects some of the villages within the district, commenced early in 2016 and was scheduled to be completed within 18 months.

The company had done nothing when their contract was terminated with allegations that it never had the capacity to carry out the project in the first place.

The major ESP project had ultimately robbed a lot of people potential employment when it succumbed to termination.

It was then that the government restarted the tendering process.

The project was awarded to Bango Trading Company and Zebra Construction in a joint venture at a value of P319 Million Pula.

However, information reaching this publication from the Ministry of Transport and Communications confirms that indeed there are no current works carried out on the Tshesebe Masunga road.

Responding to a questionnaire sent to them by this publication through their Public Relations Officer Doreen Moapare, the Ministry indicated that the Tshesebe-Masunga road project is before the courts therefore their response is limited by such a pending outcome.

“As a background the project had been awarded to Bash Carriers at a contract sum of P400, 044,365.68 to begin the works in May 2017 and complete the project in January 2019. Scopes of works included 51.2km main road inclusive of seven access roads. Due to non-performance, Bash Carriers contract was terminated on the 25th of September 2018. ”

Further, Moapare indicated that upon termination of Bash Carriers, a process began to ensure that the development project completes.

Five companies went for a selective tendering bid which she listed as; Lobkom Investments (Pty) Ltd, Landmark (Pty) Ltd and Truck Hire (Pty) Ltd Joint venture, ACE /Excavator Hire (Pty) Ltd and Asphalt Botswana (Pty) Ltd Joint venture, Cul De Sac, Bango Trading and Zebra Construction Joint venture.

“Some companies have since queried the results of the tendering adjudication landing the issue in the courts. We are currently awaiting a ruling expected in February/March 2021, and this will determine the course of action thereafter,” concluded Moapare.

At one point last year, reports indicated that Bango Trading Construction Company had faced raiding by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security, Botswana Police and Botswana Unified Revenue Services, with allegations that there was an emerging pattern targeting overscheduled construction companies with powerful political connections.

Bango Trading Managing Director, Moffat James, was reported to have had close links to former DIS Director Isaac Seabelo Kgosi. Bango Trading and Estate Construction Company which has obtained close to P 1, 5 billion government contracts under former President Lt Gen Ian Khama has been the subject of a parliamentary probe due to the many government contracts awarded to them.

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DPP halts JSC, Judge’s back to work plan

25th January 2021
Kebonang

The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.

JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.

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BDP rejects Saleshando payment proposal

25th January 2021
MP saleshando

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.

This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.

“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.

This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.

“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.

UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.

In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.

This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.

Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”

Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”

UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.

Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.

“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview
UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.

The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.

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