The Minimum Wage Advisory Board, following a bout of exchanging notes and ideas in 2018, has submitted its recommendation to Minister of Employment, Labour, Productivity and Skills Development, Tshenolo Mabelo for possible implementation after cabinet approval.
However, Mabeo has indicated that it is not guaranteed that the recommendations will be adopted as they are. “The board has just submitted recommendations to my ministry for forwarding to cabinet in near future. The board [made up of unions, workers, government, employers and independent members] sits and deliberates and come up with recommendations for approval by the executive,” said Mabeo, confirming receipt of the proposals from the board with this publication.
The board was expected to present its recommendations in March 2019. The last revision to minimum wages was done in 2017 and there has been mounting calls for it to be reviewed especially from political parties as the rates are said to be low. Data from Statistics Botswana, contained in the Formal Sector Employment Statistics 2018, shows that minimum hourly rate increased 52 percent between 2009 and 2017. The current minimum hourly wage rates range from P3.21 to P5.79 per hour.
The debate on increasing the minimum wage has been the focus on the country’s increasing income inequality. Botswana is in the top three most unequal countries in terms of income distribution as measured by the Gini Index. Proponents of the minimum wage have urged the government to protect its citizens from exploitation by increasing the minimum wage, and have contended that it will reduce inequality. Businesses operating in Botswana have defended the wages they pay their employees, arguing that what they pay is in line with the country’s minimum wage laws.
The minister reiterated that the recommendations will not be fully implemented as they are. “We should look at how employees are paid compared to the [performance of] economy. We want to create a balance so that the business community would be able to absorb many people without retrenchments. We do not want a company to be making a lot of money but not compensating workers as it could be. In short what we are saying is, ‘do not pay less than this amount. But if one [employer] wants to go overboard then they will be allowed to,’” he explained.
The industries in question include Building, Construction, Exploration and Quarry, Wholesale Distributive Trade, Manufacturing, Service and Repair Trades, Hotel, Catering and Entertainment Trades, Garage and Motor Trade and Road Transport. Currently their hourly rates range from P3.21 to P5.79.
The board according to informants suggested increase of at least 20 percent on the mentioned sectors and further said; “If the working week is 5 days, then the working day may not be more than 9 hours and a period of rest totalling 1-hour should be provided during the day. If the working week is more than 5 days, then the working day may not be more than 8 hours or more than 48 hours in a week. A break of at least 30 minutes must be given after 5 consecutive hours of work”.
Mabeo highlighted that among other factors the board looked at was inflation rate and revealed that spanners are at work to go to national living wage which gravitates to a set living wage. This is one of the recommendations in the classified recommendation paper.
A living wage, unions have said, it is not enough to improve one's quality of life or protect against emergencies.
“For example, workers will not earn enough to eat at restaurants, save for a rainy day, or pay for education loans. It doesn't include medical, auto, or renters/homeowners insurance. In other words, it's enough to keep you out of a homeless shelter, but you'd still have to live pay check-to-pay check. If you can't afford insurance, and you get sick, you could still wind up homeless,” they observed.
MABEO, UNIONS OFF TO ILO CONFERENCE
Botswana delegation led by Minister Mabeo left for Geneva, Switzerland this week to attend this year conference and centenary celebrations. “We had a meeting this week to prepare for the conference and I must say we agree on a number of things and the meeting was a success,” Mabeo told this publication. Among a number of strides they made, the tripartite committee has established a labour law review committee and this will see Botswana for the first time in years not accounting in any of the sub-committees.
In the last conference BOFEPUSU had reported the government at the ILO for what they regarded as “trampling and disregarding the lawfully instituted Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC)” and also queried the controversial amendment of the Trade Dispute Act. ILO representative, under the Freedom of Association branch, Keren Curtis also visited Botswana to meet the tripartite structure to follow up on the BOFEPUSO letter reporting key violations of workers’ rights in the country.
“We are not going to appear to any committee because we have rectified our past issues. We formed a labour law review committee to look to avoid litigations on either public services act. We have also made great progress. So far we have met at least 90 percent of what we were supposed to,” Mabeo said.
This year’s meeting will see ILO celebrating its centenary and looking at the future of the work to avoid retrenchments in the work place that is engulfed by mechanization as well as fusing technology in the work place. South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa has been tasked to present the subject titled “future of work.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.
The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.
Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa
A report; “Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19” presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFI’s have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and it’s financing.
COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; “Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. “It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.”
According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.
“There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFI’s.”
Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; “What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects. ”
Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.
Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.
“Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money.” He said.
For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.
“The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies.” Said Gare.
Letlhakeng:TotalEnergies Botswana today launched a Road Safety Campaign as part of their annual Stakeholder Relationship Management (SRM), in partnership with Unitrans, MVA Fund, TotalEnergies Letlhakeng Filling Station and the Letlhakeng Sub District Road Safety Committee during an event held in Letlhakeng under the theme, #IamTrafficToo.
The Supplier Relationship Management initiative is an undertaking by TotalEnergies through which TotalEnergie annually explores and implements social responsibility activities in communities within which we operate, by engaging key stakeholders who are aligned with the organization’s objectives. Speaking during the launch event, TotalEnergies’ Operations and HSSEQ, Patrick Thedi said, “We at TotalEnergies pride ourselves in being an industrial operator with a strategy centered on respect, listening, dialogue and stakeholder involvement, and a partner in the sustainable social and economic development of its host communities and countries. We are also very fortunate to have stakeholders who are in alignment with our organizational objectives. We assess relationships with our key stakeholders to understand their concerns and expectations as well as identify priority areas for improvement to strengthen the integration of Total Energies in the community. As our organization transitions from Total to Total Energies, we are committed to exploring sustainable initiatives that will be equally indicative of our growth and this Campaign is a step in the right direction. ”
As part of this campaign roll out, stakeholders will be refurbishing and upgrading and installing road signs around schools in the area, and generally where required. One of the objectives of the Campaign is to bring awareness and training on how to manage and share the road/parking with bulk vehicles, as the number of bulk vehicles using the Letlhakeng road to bypass Trans Kalahari increases. When welcoming guests to Letlhakeng, Kgosi Balepi said he welcomed the initiative as it will reduce the number of road incidents in the area.
Also present was District Traffic Officer ASP, Reuben Moleele, who gave a statistical overview of accidents in the region, as well as the rest of the country. Moleele applauded TotalEnergies and partners on the Campaign, especially ahead of the festive season, a time he pointed out is always one with high road statistics. The campaign name #IamTrafficToo, is a reminder to all road users, including pedestrians that they too need to be vigilant and play their part in ensuring a reduction in road incidents.
The official proceedings of the day included a handover of reflectors and stop/Go signs to the Letlhakeng Cluster from TotalEnerigies, injury prevention from tips from MVA’s Onkabetse Petlwana, as well as bulk vehicle safety tips delivered from Adolf Namate of Unitrans.
TotalEnergies, which is committed to having zero carbon emissions by 2050, has committed to rolling out the Road safety Campaign to the rest of the country in the future.