The Leader of the Opposition (LOO) in parliament, Dumelang Saleshando, has dismissed the Government’s proposed National Employment Policy, stating that it has no radical transformation intention and agenda.
Responding to the policy, tabled by Minister of Finance and Economic Development Peggy Serame on Wednesday, Saleshando said the employment policy is just a public relations stunt by the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and Government. “There are no proper targets in this policy. How many jobs are to be created, when? By what economic sectors, from which interventions and from how much investment by Government?” said the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), who is also legislator for Maun West.
Botswana Federation of Public Parastatal and Private Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU), Deputy Secretary-General, has also criticised the policy. Motshegwa said the policy was tabled before parliament without consulting social partners at tripartite structures. “This is contempt of the Decent Work Country programme and labour laws of this country. Worse, it is wrong for the Ministry of Finance to be tabling the bill because such matters fall under the Ministry of Employment Productivity and Skills Development, which is responsible for labour administration. No consultation, no understanding of Government process, real circus,” he said.
On Wednesday, Serame publicly set the ambitious target before parliament, stating that Government intends to have significantly reduced Botswana’s unemployment rate by the year 2030, just six years before the nation arrives at its promised land of a glorious life in 2036. Serame said the policy provides a comprehensive framework to deal with unemployment as a development challenge faced by the country.
The last comprehensive assessment regarding the unemployment situation in Botswana was done through the Botswana Multi-Topic Household Survey in 2015, which reported an unemployment rate of 17.7%. This rate has continued to rise over the years. Of late, it has been exacerbated by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, reaching 24.5% in the last quarter of 2020 (Quarterly Multi-Topic Survey, Quarter 4: 2020)
Serame noted that the overall goal of the National Employment Policy is to promote productive and gainful employment and decent work for Batswana. “In particular, the goal is to reduce the unemployment rate to a single digit by 2030,” she said.
Serame explained that this refers to employment that can take Batswana out of poverty, secure and respect fundamental rights of the human being and the worker, and is in line with the Botswana National Decent Work Programme 2020-2024. To achieve this, Serame said a well-coordinated whole of government approach to employment creation is very critical. Deliberating on the policy, she said the process entails Five Strategic Focus Areas.
STRENGTHENING THE GROWTH OF EMPLOYMENT IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR
Under this focus area, the policy envisages the growth of private investment and enterprise development for economic diversification, especially in those sectors with a potential to grow exports, such as agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism. Minister Serame told lawmakers that interventions to be pursued under this strategic focus area include providing an enabling environment for private sector growth; supporting business growth through government procurement activities, investing in a vibrant creative and arts industry; harnessing the benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), and reforming economic sectors for greater labour demand and better labour outcomes.
REFORMING THE EDUCATION AND TRAINING SYSTEM
The policy also outlines the implementation of reforms in the Education and Training Sector Strategic Plan (ETSSP) to improve education outcomes. At the same time, the policy aims to address one of the country’s challenges of the labour market of skills mismatch, which has contributed to the high level of unemployment in the country.
Specific interventions to be pursued include: strengthening education enrolment, completion and quality outcomes supporting vocational education and training introducing a framework agreement for the development of apprenticeships preparing graduates for the changing nature of work establishing a digital academy and ICT incubation hub
IMPROVING THE FLOW OF INFORMATION BETWEEN JOB SEEKERS AND JOB OPENINGS
This strategic focus area seeks to reinforce a labour market exchange that brings together jobseekers and job openings to inform job seekers of available job opportunities through an effective labour market intermediation system. The policy proposes strengthening of employment exchange services, as well as the fast-tracking implementation of the Labour Market Information System.
STRENGTHENING OF EMPLOYMENT PROGRAMMES
Under this strategic focus, the area Government intends to ensure the effectiveness of existing employment programmes. Specific interventions include evaluating and reviewing the effectiveness of existing programmes, including those for youth; building economic links between social protection and employment; and integration of selected groups such as youth, women and persons living with disabilities into the labour market.
DEVELOPING A FRAMEWORK FOR COHERENT AND COORDINATED POLICIES WITH SYSTEMATIC MONITORING AND EVALUATION
Minister Serame also explained that the Government also recognises the need for establishing effective implementation and coordination mechanisms for the policy, a specific monitoring and evaluation framework, and evaluation of employment programmes and services on an ongoing basis. The coordination and implementation mechanism for the policy proposes that supervision is at a high level, specifically, the office of the Vice President.
The Ministry of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development will coordinate the implementation of the policy. Minister Peggy Serame further explained that Minister Balopi’s Ministry would implement a comprehensive accountability system for the policy. The system will encompass, among others, an Implementation plan with a set of sectoral employment targets and outcomes to be achieved, as well as specific labour force related indicators to measure progress towards the set targets.
The Ministry will produce regular reports on progress and remedial action while undertaking a policy evaluation at least every five years to assess the impact of initiatives and programmes on employment and ensure alignment with new developments. Serame noted that the successful implementation of the policy would depend on various factors such as availability of financial and human resources, participation of the private sector as a critical factor in job creation, and effective coordination and monitoring of the policy.
A short-term action plan to operationalise the policy has been developed and is attached to the procedure. The policy will be implemented within the first six (6) months following its approval. On the other hand, the longer-term action plan will assess and detail specific actions and the full scope of resources needed to implement the policy. Ministries are expected to budget for the implementation of the policy initiatives.
With the advent of COVID-19, mental health and psychosocial has become a major concern around the world. There is significant increase in the rates of stress, anxiety and depression globally.
In creating awareness and support on mental health and psychosocial support, the Ministry of Local Government & Rural Development, through the Department of Social Protection (DSP) hosted a virtual regional mental health and Psychosocial Support Forum (MHPSS).
The MHPSS Forum brings together stakeholders from different sectors providing Mental Health and Psychosocial Support services particularly to children, youth, families and the workforce, as well as Academia, International Cooperating Partners, Community Implementing Partners and the media.
It aims to facilitate learning, information exchange and advocacy to promote mainstreaming of Mental Health and Psycho-Social Support (PSS) into policies, programmes, services and funding priorities for children and youth in Botswana.
The event is a partnership between The Ministry of Local Government & Rural Development, through the Department of Social Protection (DSP), and the Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative (REPSSI), with Project Concern International Botswana (PCI) and Marang Child Care Network Trust (MCCNT).
The event is held every two years, and Botswana started hosting the Forum in 2014. The theme for this year is ‘Innovate, Integrate, Thrive,’ which prompts us to find new ways to survive the COVID-19 pandemic which we can mainstream into our daily activities.
The Northern Regional Forum in Mahalapye was held on 17-19 August 2021 while the Southern Regional Forum in Ghanzi, was from 21-23 September 2021. Findings from both regions will be presented at the National Forum to be held in Kasane on 12-14 October 2021. The event is held in collaboration with local authorities in each region.
The event is structured in this manner: The first day is a Special Session for Children, where children in the region will talk about the challenges they face that affect their mental health, how they cope and what they think can be done to support them.
The second day is the official opening where the lead ministry gives a keynote address, and presentations from service providers in the region. The third and last day is abstract presentations from different speakers on thematic areas under the theme.
The Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASSCAL) in collaboration with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) will hold a Hybrid GMES and Africa Regional workshop from 27 – 29 September 2021, at Safari Hotel in Windhoek, Namibia.
The Global Monitoring for Environment and Security and Africa (GMES & Africa) Initiative is a programme formed out of mutual cooperation between Africa and Europe with a focus on Earth Observation (EO) systems.
It was formed to respond to the global need to manage the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure civil security by providing information to policymakers, scientists, private sector and the public. GMES and Africa aims to promote development of local capacities, institutional, human and technical resources for access to and exploitation of Earth Observation (EO) based services on an operational basis for sustainable development in Africa.
In its first phase, GMES has funded 13 consortiums in Africa. In Southern African, SASSCAL-led consortia is implementing the Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Service for Transboundary Basins in Southern Africa (WeMAST) Project while CSIR is leading the Marine and Coastal Operations for Southern Africa (MARCOSouth). SASSCAL Members of the consortium include the University of Botswana, University of Zambia, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, University of the Western Cape and Midlands State University, South African National Space Agency (SANSA) and the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) of Zambia.
CSIR led consortium includes ABALOBI, Benguela Current Convention, Coastal Oceans Research and Development in the Indian Ocean, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, National Sea Rescue Institute, University of Dar Es Salaam, University of Eduardo Mondlane and the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association).
The workshop will also provide an opportunity to promote and encourage mutual exchanges in terms of sharing best practices, knowledge and experiences as well as allow for the exchange of information and knowledge on new and innovative Earth Observation technologies developed under the programmes and their alignment with the region’s sustainable development strategies.
The workshop will also reveal trends in the use of earth observation data to monitor and assess wetland conditions, threats to sustainable utilisation of wetland resources as well as updating stakeholders on how climate change variability and drought is continually affecting Sub-Saharan Africa’s surface water resources.
The workshop’s envisaged outcomes will be to ensure shared knowledge and understanding of the new and innovative Earth Observation technologies, and their application to society. Expected to visit is a broader pool of international delegates from the two continents (Europe and Africa) both physically and virtual.
This includes the member countries policy makers, line ministers from the SADC countries, public and private sector stakeholders, implementers, Basin Commissions, researchers, and any other stakeholders whose activities are related to coastal areas, rivers, and their ecosystems.
Some vendors have been misled Vendors thrive on households goods and fresh produce
Despite the previous false allegations that the Tobacco Control Bill will lead to several 20 000 vendors across the country losing their jobs, several local vendors have expressed that they are ready for the bill and because vendors sell mostly household goods
“This is something that we openly accept and receive as street vendors, the problem is some of our counterparts were misled and made to believe that we will not be allowed to sell cigarettes on our stalls.
Some of us got to understand that the bill states that we have to be licensed to sell cigarettes, we are not supposed to sell them to children under the age of 18 years of age and eliminating the selling of single sticks. We understand that this agenda is meant to develop a healthy nation but not take us down,” said Mbimbi Tau a vendor who operates from Mogoditshane.
The Tobacco Control Bill has been passed in several countries and street vendors are operating properly without any challenges faced. Tau further mentioned that there is no way that the Tobacco Control Bill will affect their business operations, all they have to do as vendors are to get the required documentation and do what the bill requires.
Another vendor Busani Selalame who operates from Gaborone Bonnington North was not shy to express his support towards the Tobacco Control Bill, “the problem is that some people within our sector have been misled and now they think that the bill is meant to take our operations down and completely stop selling cigarettes.
I support the fact that we are not supposed to sell cigarettes to children who are under the age of 18 years of age this has always been wrong, as parents we should be cautious of such and ensure that our children are disassociated with cigarettes,” said Selalame.
The Tobacco Control Bill prohibits advertising, promotion and sponsorship by the tobacco industry to prevent messages, cues, and other inducements to begin using tobacco, especially among the youth, to reassure users to continue their use, or that otherwise undermine quitting.
Renowned economist Bakang Ntshingane is of the view that since vendors sell household goods and fresh produce they are likely to keep on making profits despite what the Tobacco Control Bill comes with. He further stated that the Tobacco Control Bill will not be of harm on the local economy since the country does not manufacture or produce any tobacco related products.