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 Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTC) has announced that its 3rd Francistown Marathon will be held on Saturday 20th April 2024 at Obed Itani Chilume Stadium in Francistown. The BTC Francistown Marathon is officially recognised by World Athletics and a Comrades Marathon Qualifier will offer race categories ranging from 42.2km, 21.1 km, 10km, 5km fun run, 5km peace run for children and has introduced a 5km and 10km categories for wheelchairs athletics.
BTC also used this opportunity to announce beneficiaries who received donations from proceeds made from the 2nd BTC Francistown Marathon that was held on April 23rd 203.¬† BTC donated a play area, plastic chairs and wooden tables for pupils worth a total of thirty eight thousand, one hundred and three pula, fifty thebe each (P38, 103.50) to Monarch Primary School, Tatitown Primary School, Mahube Primary School and Gulubane Primary School. Ditladi and Boikhutso clinics each received a donation of benches, television sets and 10, 000 litre water tanks worth thirty seven thousan, eight hundred and ninety eight pula (P 37, 898.00). Additionally, BTC also donated seventy thousand pula (P70,000.00) to their marathon technical partner, Francistown Athletics Club (FAC) which will be used for daily operations as well as to purchase equipment for the club.
The BTC Francistown Marathon aligns seamlessly with BTC’s corporate social investment programme, administered through the BTC Foundation. This programme is a testament to BTC’s dedication to community development, focusing on key areas such as health promotion. The marathon, now in its third year, not only promotes a healthy lifestyle but also channels all proceeds to carefully chosen charities as part of BTC’s commitment to impactful and sustainable projects.
Speaking at the launch, the BTC Managing Director Mr Anthony Masunga stated that the marathon underscores BTC‚Äôs commitment to community upliftment and corporate social investment. He stated that ‚Äúthe annual event which has been in existence since 2016, having taken a break due to the covid and other logistical issues, is instrumental to the economic upliftment of the city of Francistown‚ÄĚ. He congratulated all the beneficiaries for having been nominated to receive the donations, adding that ‚Äúthe donation of proceeds from the 2023 marathon aims to highlight BTC‚Äôs commitment and heart for Batswana and our continued impact in the different industries‚ÄĚ.
He further stated that through this marathon, ‚Äúwe demonstrate our steadfast commitment to having a good influence on our communities, this event is a manifestation of our dedication to promoting education and a healthier, more active society‚ÄĚ. ¬†He concluded by stating that ‚ÄúBTC looks forward to another successful marathon that will leave a lasting positive influence on the greater Francistown community and the country at large‚ÄĚ he said.
Giving welcome remarks, the Councillor for Donga, Honourable Morulaganyi Mothowabarwa stated that ‚Äúhe is ecstatic that BTC is collaborating with the City of Francistown on yet another installment of the Marathon‚ÄĚ. He continued to offer his support to BTC to enable this marathon to continue over the coming years, stating that the ‚ÄúCSI element is a welcome development that helps empower our communities‚ÄĚ, he said.
The 3rd BTC Francistown Marathon is officially open for registrations and athletes may use the following platforms to register and pay; through Smega by dialling *173# and choosing opton 5, then choose Option 3 for the Francistown marathon, at any BTC store or by visiting the BTC website and clicking on the BTC Francistown Marathon and choosing the relevant options.
Thapelo Letsholo, Member of Parliament for Kanye North, delivered a moving speech at the United Nations International Anti-Corruption Day commemoration, praising President Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi’s digitalization initiative in the fight against corruption. Letsholo highlighted the importance of embracing digitalization in governance as a crucial step in curbing corrupt practices.
According to Letsholo, the implementation of digital systems in government services can significantly reduce direct interactions between citizens and officials, which often serve as fertile grounds for corruption. By minimizing these opportunities for illicit activities, the efficiency and transparency of public services can be enhanced. Letsholo pointed to Estonia’s success in digital governance as an example, where public services have become more transparent, accessible, and efficient.
The MP commended President Masisi’s commitment to digitalization and E-Governance, emphasizing that it aligns with global anti-corruption standards. He called for full support and active participation from all sectors to ensure the success of this initiative.
Letsholo also stressed the importance of improving detection methods and refining whistleblower laws to effectively combat corruption. He highlighted the unseen and unspoken facets of corruption as its lifelines, emphasizing the need for robust detection mechanisms and a system that encourages and protects whistleblowers.
Addressing the societal role in fighting corruption, Letsholo focused on the crucial role of everyday citizens and civil servants who often witness corrupt practices firsthand. He acknowledged the existing reluctance to report corruption due to the perceived risks of repercussions. To change this narrative, Letsholo advocated for creating an environment where staying silent is deemed more detrimental than speaking out. He called for a cultural shift where the potential benefits of exposing corruption outweigh the risks, ensuring that whistleblowers are protected and feel secure in coming forward.
Letsholo called for collective responsibility and action in creating a system that not only detects and reports corruption but also supports those who stand against it. He expressed hope that under President Masisi’s digitalization initiatives, the future of governance in Botswana will be characterized by integrity, transparency, and accountability. Letsholo’s speech resonated with the sentiments of hope and determination that permeated the commemoration, emphasizing the need for unity in the fight against corruption.
In summary, Letsholo lauded President Masisi’s digitalization initiative in the fight against corruption, highlighting its potential to curb corrupt practices, enhance efficiency and transparency in public services, and align with global anti-corruption standards. He emphasized the importance of improving detection methods, refining whistleblower laws, and creating an environment where speaking out against corruption is encouraged and protected. Letsholo called for collective responsibility and action in creating a future characterized by integrity, transparency, and accountability in governance.
FaR Property Company (FPC) Limited, a property investment company listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange, has recently announced its exceptional financial results for the year 2023. The company’s property asset value has risen to P1.47 billion, up from P1.42 billion in the previous year.
FPC has a diverse portfolio of properties, including retail, commercial, industrial, and residential properties in Botswana, South Africa, and Zambia. The company owns a total of 186 properties, generating rental revenues from various sectors. In 2023, the company recorded rental revenues of P11 million from residential properties, P62 million from industrial properties, and P89 million from commercial properties. Overall, the company’s total revenues increased by 9% to P153 million, while profit before tax increased by 22% to P136 million, and operating profit increased by 11% to P139 million.
One notable achievement for FPC is the low vacancy rate across its properties, which stands at only 6%. This is particularly impressive considering the challenging trading environment. The company attributes this success to effective lease management and the leasing of previously vacant properties in South Africa. FPC’s management expressed satisfaction with the results, highlighting the resilience of the company in the face of ongoing macroeconomic challenges.
The increase in profit before tax can be attributed to both an increase in income and effective control of operating expenses. FPC managed to achieve these results with fewer employees, demonstrating the company’s efficiency. The headline earnings per linked unit also saw an improvement, reaching 26.92 thebe, higher than the previous year.
Looking ahead, FPC remains confident in its competitiveness and growth prospects. The company possesses a substantial land bank, which it plans to develop strategically as opportunities arise. FPC aims for managed growth, focusing on consumer-driven developments and ensuring the presence of supportive tenants. By maintaining this approach, the company believes it can sustainably grow its property portfolio and remain competitive in the market.
In terms of the macroeconomic environment, FPC noted that inflation rates are decreasing towards the 3% to 6% range approved by the Bank of Botswana. This is positive news for the company, as it hopes for further decreases in interest rates. However, the fluctuating fuel prices, influenced by global events such as the war in Ukraine and oil output reductions by Russia and other Middle Eastern countries, continue to impact businesses, including some of FPC’s tenants.
FPC’s property portfolio includes notable assets such as a shopping mall in Francistown with Choppies Hyper as the anchor tenant, Borogo Mall located on the A33 main road near the Kazungula ferry crossing, and various industrial and commercial properties in Gaborone leased to Choppies, Senn Foods, and Clover Botswana. The company also owns a shopping mall in Mafikeng and Rustenburg in South Africa.
The majority of FPC’s properties, 85%, are located in Botswana, followed by 12% in South Africa and 3% in Zambia. With its strong financial performance, competitive position, and strategic land bank, FPC is well-positioned for continued growth and success in the property market.