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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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UDC founder warns against merger

19th October 2020
Ex UDC Convener: Mpotokwane

Lebang Mpotokwane, one of the conveners who presided over the opposition cooperation talks that resulted in the formation of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), has advised against changing the current umbrella model in favour of a merger as proposed by others.

The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leader, Dumelang Saleshando recently went public to propose that UDC should consider merging of all opposition parties, including Alliance for Progressives (AP) and Botswana Patriotic Front (BNF).

Saleshando has been vehemently opposed by Botswana National Front (BNF), which is in favour of maintaining the current model.  BNF’s position has been favoured by the founding father of UDC, who warned that it will be too early to ditch the current model.

“UDC should be well developed to promote the spirit of togetherness on members and the members should be taught so that the merger is developed gradually. They should approach it cautiously. If they feel they are ready, they can, but it would not be a good idea,” Mpotokwane told WeekendPost this week.

Mpotokwane and Emang Maphanyane are the two men who have since 2003 began a long journey of uniting opposition parties in a bid to dethrone the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BCP) as they felt it needed a strong opposition to avoid complacency.

Tonota born Mpotokwane is however disappointed on how they have been ejected from participating in the last edition of talks ahead of the 2019 general elections in which BCP was brought on board.  However, despite the ejection, Mpotokwane is not resentful to the opposition collective.

He said the vision of opposition unity was to ultimately merge the opposition parties but he believes time has not arrived yet to pursue that path. “The bigger picture was a total merger and we agreed that with three independent parties, members might be against merger eventuality so the current model should be used until a point where they are now together for as long as possible,” he said.

“UDC should gradually perform better in elections and gain confidence. They should not rush the merger. We have been meeting since 2003, but if they rush it might cause endless problems. If they are ready they can anyway,” he advised. For now the constituent parties of the umbrella have been exchanging salvos with others (BCP and BNF).

“There are good reasons for and against merging the parties. Personally, I am in favour of merging the parties (including AP and BPF) into a single formation but I know it’s a complex mission that will have its own challenges,” Saleshando said when he made his position known a week ago.

“Good luck to those advocating for a merger, it will be interesting to observe the tactics they will use to lure the BPF into a merger,” former BNF councillor for Borakalalo Ward and former BNF Youth League Secretary General, Arafat Khan, opined in relation to BCP’s proposed position.

Mpotokwane, who is currently out in the cold from the UDC since he was ejected from the party’s NEC in 2017, said the current bickering and the expected negotiations with other parties need the presence of conveners.

“We did not belong to any party as conveners so we were objective in our submissions. If party propose any progressive idea we will support, if it is not we will not, so I would agree that even now conveners might be key for neutrality to avoid biasness,” he observed. Despite being abandoned, Mpotokwane said he will always be around to assist if at all he is needed.

“If they want help I will be there, I have always been clear about it, but surely I will ask few questions before accepting that role,” he said. UDC is expected to begin cooperation talks with both AP and BPF either this week or next weekend for both upcoming bye-elections (halted by Covid-19) and 2024 general elections and it is revealed that there will be no conveners this time around.

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BDP attaches Boko’s property

19th October 2020
DUMA BOKO

The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) moved through its lawyers to attach the property of Umbrella for Democratic (UDC) President Duma Boko and other former parliamentary contestants who failed in their court bid to overturn the 2019 general elections in 14 constituencies.

WeekendPost has established that this week, Deputy Sheriffs were commissioned by Bogopa Manewe Tobedza and Company who represented the BDP, to attach the properties of UDC elections contents in a bid to recover costs.  High Court has issued a writ of execution against all petitioners, a process that has set in motion the cost recovery measures.

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COVID-19 exposes decay in the education system

19th October 2020
Education Systm

Botswana Sectors of Teachers Union (BOSETU) says COVID-19 as a pandemic has negatively affected the education sector by deeply disrupting the education system. The intermittent lockdowns have resulted in the halting of teaching and learning in schools.

The union indicated that the education system was caught napping and badly exposed when it came to the use of Information System (IT), technological platforms and issues of digitalisation.

“COVID-19 exposed glaring inefficiencies and deficiencies when it came to the use of ITC in schools. In view of the foregoing, we challenge government as BOSETU to invest in school ITC, technology and digitalization,” says BOSETU President Kinston Radikolo during a press conference on Tuesday.

As a consequence, the union is calling on government to prioritise education in her budgeting to provide technological infrastructure and equipment including provision of tablets to students and teachers.

“Government should invest vigorously in internet connectivity in schools and teacher’s residences if the concept of flexi-hours and virtual learning were to be achieved and have desired results,” Radikolo said.

Radikolo told journalists that COVID-19 is likely to negatively affect final year results saying that the students would sit for the final examinations having not covered enough ground in terms of curriculum coverage.

“This is so because there wasn’t any catch up plan that was put in place to recover the lost time by students. We warn that this year’s final examination results would dwindle,” he said.

The Union, which is an affiliate of Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Union (BOFEPUSU), also indicated that COVID-19’s presence as a pandemic has complicated the role of a teacher in a school environment, saying a teacher’s role has not only transcended beyond just facilitating teaching and learning, but rather, a teacher in this COVID-19 era, is also called upon to enforce the COVID-19 preventative protocols in the school environment.

“This is an additional role in the duty of a teacher that needs to be recognized by the employers. Teachers by virtue of working in a congested school environment have become highly exposed and vulnerable to COVID-19, hence the reason why BOSETU would like teachers to be regarded as the frontline workers with respect to COVID-19,” says Radikolo.

BOSETU noted that the pandemic has in large scales found its way into most of the school environments, as in thus far more than 50 schools have been affected by COVID-19. The Union says this is quite a worrying phenomenon.

“As we indicated before when we queried that schools were not ready for re-opening, it has now come to pass that our fears were not far-fetched. This goes out to tell that there is deficiency in our schools when it comes to putting in place preventative protocols. In our schools, hygiene is compromised by mere absence of sanitizers, few hand-washing stations, absence of social distancing in classes,” the Union leader said.

Furthermore, Radikolo stressed that the shifting system drastically increased the workload for teachers especially in secondary schools. He says teachers in these schools experience very high loads to an extent that some of them end up teaching up to sixty four periods per week, adding that this has not only fatigued teachers, but has also negatively affected their performance and the quality of teaching.

In what the Union sees as failure to uphold and honour collective agreements by government, owing to the shift system introduced at primary schools, government is still in some instances refusing to honour an agreement with the Unions to hire more teachers to take up the extra classes.

“BOSETU notes with disgruntlement the use of pre-school teachers to teach in the mainstream schools with due regard for their specific areas of training and their job descriptions. This in our view is a variation of the terms of employment of the said teachers,” says Radikolo.

The Union has called on government to forthwith remedy this situation and hire more teachers to alleviate this otherwise unhealthy situation. BOSETU also expressed concerns of some school administrators who continuously run institutions with iron fists and in a totalitarian way.

“We have a few such hot spot schools which the Union has brought to attention the Ministry officials such as Maoka JSS, Artesia JSS, and Dukwi JSS. We are worried that the Ministry becomes sluggish in taking action against such errant school administration. In instances where action is taken, such school administrators are transferred and rotated around schools.”

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