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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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Masisi, DIS come under scrutiny at UN Rights Committee 

25th October 2021
masisi & magosi

President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi and the Directorate of Intelligence (DIS) came under the lens of the United Nations Human Rights Committee during the just ended dialogue between committee members and the Botswana delegation. 

Scores of issues, among them the country’s reports on topics including whether Masisi abused the State of Emergency Act during the COVID-19 pandemic and alleged surveillance and harassment of members of the public by DIS, were addressed at the session.

A Committee expert asked about legislation in the Penal Code allowing the Government to investigate people who expressed opinions against public figures, particularly the President. How many cases were there of journalists who had been investigated, prosecuted and tried?
Concerning the COVID-19 Emergency Powers Act, there was a provision for a fine or a five-year jail term for journalists using “source(s) other than the Director of Health Services or the World Health Organization” when reporting on COVID-19. The Committee Expert asked for the number of cases and other measures taken under this Act.

Another committee expert wanted to know that the scale and scope of electronic surveillance, which had sharply increased in recent years, was concerning. Furthermore, the Committee was troubled at the lack of a sufficient independent oversight mechanism over the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services that reportedly had contributed to a growing climate of fear and chilling effect on journalists, human rights defenders and opposition politicians. In this respect, a Committee Expert asked about the measures taken by Botswana during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that the right to privacy was protected (collection and management of personal data).

The Expert also enquired about a database website, which was not functioning but was supposed to contain documents of Botswana’s international human rights commitments.
In terms of the freedom of assembly, while the Constitution of the State party guaranteed it, the Committee had received information that, in practice, the Public Order Act required citizens to apply to the nearest police for a permit to hold an assembly, and police had sometimes denied requests for unclear reasons.

The Committee Expert asked if the Public Order Act of the State party had been applied in conformity with those tests. Would the State party indicate the measures it had taken and/or intended to take to make the application of the law in question strictly compatible with the requirements under article 21? Furthermore, the Committee had also received allegations that police officers sometimes used force to compel gathering people to disperse. In this regard, the Expert asked for information on legal provisions and practical guidelines under which police officers may resort to force and any training programme if any, for police and other law enforcement officers to respect and ensure the right of peaceful assembly.

A Committee Expert asked about cases of holding people for longer periods under pre-trial detention than the maximum period provided for in legislation, 36 months, instead of six. Were there any plans to shorten the duration of pre-trial detention in legislation? The Committee noted that there was no provision for local community broadcasting. What measures were the State party taking to ensure that the local communities could also communicate in their language in the media?

What measures had been undertaken by Botswana to increase sustainable development in the country regarding climate change in particular. What efforts had been undertaken to ensure that customary courts worked up to speed? A Committee Expert asked about children in rural areas who travelled a long way to their schools. The delegation was asked about the independence of the Ombudsman Office, including provisions for appointing the Ombudsman. What budget was envisaged for this Office?

The Expert acknowledged the established procedures and institutions for anti-human trafficking but expressed concerns about the lack of reported cases. The Expert asked about the accountability of the public prosecution, as well as the intelligence services. Replying, the Botswana delegation, led by Presidential Minister Kabo Morwaeng, said there was an ongoing consultation for revising provisions that would ensure better protection for journalists and media freedom in Botswana.

Still, the delegation said, freedom of expression was assured in the State party without any restrictions, including in Parliament. There was an education programme providing the opportunity for children in primary school to be taught in their mother tongue. It also explained that the Ombudsman would be dealing with issues of human rights promotion and protection.

“National policies and procedures were envisaged to control the distribution of natural resources. Botswana was also taking measures to increase the access of minority groups to education. Regarding pre-trial detention, the delegation explained that the criminal procedure assured justice was preserved in the country,” said the delegation.

On the issue of torturer and alleged use of unreasonable force on suspects, the Botswana delegation explained that police officers were trained to use minimal force, ensuring that human rights were preserved, including in the cases of assemblies. On the use of surveillance, no legal provisions were breached, and such measures were used in accordance with national legislation. Legal aid was very costly, and it was not possible to keep the record in detail as asked by the Committee.

Morwaeng told the Committee that the Government maintained a robust consultative approach to policy development and legislative process. He said this was a system of governance that ensured that the voices of ordinary citizens were respected and taken into account in the social, economic and political process that affected them the most, giving full effect to the full enjoyment of human rights across the board. The delegation took due note of the views of the Committee, including the importance of harnessing information technology to give a broader appreciation of the provisions of the Covenant.

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Masisi on P1 billion water investment

25th October 2021
water project

The P1 billion water project launched by President Dr vMokgweetsi Masisi this week is said to be critical to the success of key projects planned in Lobatse – the Lobatse Milk Afric and Leather Park. After commissioning the multi-million Pula Masama-Mmamashia water project last week following its completion, on Thursday, Masisi performed ground-breaking ceremony of yet another major water project, the Lobatse Water Supply Master Plan (LWSMP1).

The water project was conceptualized in 2009 to address water shortage in areas along the Greater Gaborone zone. These areas include Ramotswa, Otse, Mogobane, Mankgodi, Manyana, Goodhope, Lekgolobotlo, Mmathethe, Molapowabojang and villages surrounding. It was said that some major upcoming projects in Lobatse such as Lobatse Leather Park, Milk Afric and the Pioneer Border Gate are dependent on the success of this project, in order for them to take off and operate effectively. The two projects have been struggling to take-off despite government having put the necessary resources.

The Lobatse Leather Park is anticipated to create about 4700 jobs at the initial stage and 7000 jobs at full capacity. The project entails the development of a complex for different tanneries with the support of state-owned beef company, Botswana Meat Commission. It will comprise primary infrastructure such as a common effluent treatment plant, sewage treatment plant, and others.

When operational, the park is expected to supply the private sector with hides and skins, raw to finished leather tanneries, and the manufacturing of different leather products. These products include shoes, belts, jackets, and others, thereby playing an instrumental role in stimulating economic activity. Leather Beneficiation Park is seen as important for the leather industry as it would ensure that Botswana moves from exporting raw leather to finished leather goods. It is said research has established that there are plenty of hides and skins in the country from the three million cattle and 1.8 million goats.

Meanwhile, Milk Afric dairy farm project which was expected to be complete by the second half of 2018, is in the wilderness after the initial partnership between Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) and Milk Afric failed to bear fruits. BDC has been searching for a new partner for the project. Once fully operational, the farm will produce a total of 21.9 million litres or one third of the national milk demand, which is 65 million litres a year. At present, Botswana imports over 58.8 million litres from South Africa at a cost of P345 million annually.

The P120 million project is a Public Private Partnership deal between Lobatse Town Council (LTC),  with 10 percent shareholding through leasing its 1375.4 ha farm for 25 years; and 26 percent (P40 million) by Botswana Development Corporation (BDC). When speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony held in Ramotswa, Masisi said, in addition to improving the water supply for domestic needs and livelihoods, this infrastructural development will facilitate major projects in the Lobatse region, which are critical to the ailing, old town.

“Our objective as a country is to align developments with the National Vision 2036 Pillar 3 on Sustainable Development, which recognizes water as a very scarce resource which requires strategic management by key players.” Botswana is a developing country with an increasing population, Masisi said, adding that an increase in population naturally causes exponential growth in the demand for water. This is a reality that Botswana is faced with and challenged to address for sustainable water supply, the President said.

He indicated that this is why they are continuously witnessing major water projects undertaken by government, in collaboration with key partners. “Gaborone and surrounding areas have been experiencing an acute water supply deficit due to infrastructure that has outlived its potential to meet the growing demand for water by citizens. This particular project entails the construction of a Pump Station at Forest Hill in Gaborone, a 57 kilometre pipeline from Gaborone to Lobatse and a new Northern reservoir.”

The project, awarded China State Construction and Engineering Corporation/Van and Truck Hire Joint Venture at over P1 billion, is currently at 49% of its completion stage. There are 637 jobs created by this water project. “The transmission pipeline will convey 63 million litres of water a day from Gaborone to Lobatse. This is a great improvement compared to an average supply of 14 million litres of water that has been supplied to Lobatse, Borolong and surrounding areas,” Masisi said.

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UN quizzes Botswana on gays, Sebina defilement case

25th October 2021
EU

The United Nations Committee on Human Rights has taken Botswana to task over what it considers to be discrimination laws against lesbians and gays and delay in prosecuting suspects in the infamous Sebina defilement case.  The Botswana delegation led by Presidential Minister Kabo Morwaeng found itself against the wall before the United Nations Human Rights Committee of experts in Geneva, Switzerland.  

First to take Botswana head-on was the UN Committee member, C SOH, who noted that the recent ruling of the High Court pays particular attention to the penal code penalising same-sex sexual conduct as it found that it infringed on the constitutional rights, dignity, liberty and privacy of the LGBTI persons (lesbians and gays).  “Nonetheless, I note with deep concern that those discriminatory provisions of the of the penal code remain in effect and regrettably the government stated in its periodic review before deciding whether or not to repeal section 164 it would still await the final determination of the court of appeal in the case of Motshidiemang vs State,” said Soh.

According to Soh, “This statement makes us cast doubt on the will of the government to vigorously” strike out section 164, which criminalises sex between people of the same sex.  “In this respect, I would like to ask the delegation to explain what the intended goal by the government was when it filed an appeal against the unconstitutionality ruling of the High Court,” he said. Soh said the Botswana Government had also explained that no persons had been convicted under this provision, section 164, ever since the penal code was enacted.

“However, media reports indicate that in August 2016, the government of a Gaborone Magistrate Court sentenced a man three years in prison who had been charged and convicted under section 164 for engaging in unnatural acts. Can the delegation explain these discrepancies relating to persons who have been convicted and sentenced under section 164 of the penal code,” he said.  He also wanted the Botswana delegation to explain how the government addresses how customary courts have been discriminating against LGBTI persons.

Another member of the UN Committee, Duncan Muhumuza, expressed concern that the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) has taken more than four years to prosecute suspects in the Sebina saga in which a councillor was alleged to have slept with a student who was also a minor.
Replying to concerns raised by the UN experts, Mogakolodi Segwagwa, chief state counsel at the Attorney General Chambers, noted that one of the UN committee members has “become fearful that the fact that government appealed the case could be a sign that there is lack of will or doubt on the part of the government as to abolishing or outlawing of same-sex relations.”

“But I would like to assure the panel that Botswana has over the years proved itself at all times to be compliant with court orders. There are many examples I could put forward where the government had to make sure that court orders were executed. That is the assurance I can give out to the committee,” said Segwagwa.  He said there was a good reason for appealing the decision of the High Court in which it outlawed section 164.

“This was a High Court decision, and as you know in our jurisdiction when a judge is at the same court with his brothers and his sisters and fellow judges, whatever decision he puts out so far as that particular court is concerned, it is not law because it is not binding on his fellow brothers and sisters and it is not binding on fellow judges,” explained Segwagwa. He added that “It is merely persuasive so much so that some other judges may choose to when a similar case comes before him or her, depart and ignore the position that that particular judge espoused, and he or she can do so with ease.”

Segwagwa further explained that “There was a very pressing need for this matter to be appealed to the Court of Appeal for purposes of crystalising the law and for purposes of ensuring that if there is any aspect of the law that the High Court had overlooked in arriving at this particular decision, then such an aspect can be taken into consideration by the Court of Appeal.” “So we are waiting for that judgement, and once it comes, it will be implemented. I take it that the committee would like the Court of Appeal to uphold the decision below and strike out this particular section.”

He assured the UN experts that when the High Court struck out section 164 in 2019, the country did not erupt into violence, adding that this was an “indication that we don’t have anything against people of LGBT. They are our brothers and sisters, and we co-exist with them.”  Regarding the Sebina saga, Segwagwa said the painful case “where this councillor was said to have had sexual intercourse with a child is the police dealt with a matter as it is the law and we all know that the police are bound by their Act to do so without fear and prejudice.”

He said Upon completion of their investigation, “the matter was handed over to the prosecuting authority, as Mr Muhumuza had indicated, it has been four years and we concede that four years is a long time and that it is unreasonably a long time and that it defeats the whole adage that justice should be sweetest and freshest so much so that the case needed to be speeded along.”

He added that “But the problem we have which is not a problem in the sense of it being a problem, but the impediment we have in the sense that the Constitution created the Office of the Director of Prosecutions under section 51 subsection A and if you go to that particular section and you read subsection six, the director shall not be subjected to the control of another authority.”

Segwagwa said, “this is the section that was inserted in this constitution to safeguard the independence of the Director of DPP to ensure that he or she prosecutes matters without fear, favour and prejudice and it presents impediment where we can’t try and say to the DPP, go and register or indicate your position now, tomorrow or next year and that is why it has taken all this time, but we believe attempts are being made that it finds its way to the court.”

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