Batswana to petition Gov’t over minimum wages

  • Almost 5000 people have signed the petition
  • Budget speech says nothing on minimum wages
  • Propose P2500 minimum wage

Gazette Reporter

Five thousand Batswana have signed a petition calling on government to set a minimum wage that ensures that Batswana have a decent life.
Dubbed ‘Change Botswana Minimum Wage’ the petition is currently circulating online and is accessible through Change.Org.
According to the petitioners, the minimum wage is less than P1000 in an economy where prices for commodities, rent and public transport go up constantly.
“P1000 is not the minimum amount a person can survive on if you just calculated the basic needs of a human being outside even taking care of their family like children and elderly parents. We are proposing a basic living wage that consists of P900 rent, P500 transport, P700 food and P400 children/miscellaneous which makes up P2500”, read the petition.
Botswana is amongst the lowest paying countries in Southern Africa, with average earnings of around P5000, according to Statistics Botswana, 12 percent of which are eroded by Pay As You Earn (PAYE), the income tax. Further, Statistics Botswana says transport takes up at 23.9 percent of total earnings in Botswana, while expenditure towards housing costs and food was at 17.8 percent and 12.8 percent respectively. This means that over half of earnings in Botswana are spent on food, rent and transport.
According to the 2017/18 wage numbers, government has set a minimum of P3.21 per hour and P5.79 per hour at the highest. The minimum wage guide shows that the domestic services sector is the lowest paying employment sector, set at P3.21 per hour which is equivalent to P25 per day, or P564 every month. In the retail, distribution and trade sectors, employees earn a minimum of P904 (P41 per day) monthly. The highest paying sectors, manufacturing, hotels and construction pay P5.79 per hour, an equivalent of P1000 every month. These are the minimum monthly salaries, which Minister Mabeo says are ‘working for government’.
Those earning on the lower end of the scale in Botswana make up the bulk of the country’s employment figures.
Just last year, the then Minister of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development, Tshenolo Mabeo announced that there is no need for government to review minimum wages to match the rising costs of living.
A few months back parliament also rejected a motion to introduce a decent living wage in the country, a motion brought by Shaun Nthaile, an opposition member of parliament.
The motion sought to address the disparity between minimum wage and the ever rising costs of living. Nthaile presented that the living wage will allow people to lead decent lives as it estimates the cost of living and makes provisions for day to day living. While the minimum wages are laid down in law and enforceable, the living wages are not prescribed by law and therefore cannot be legally enforced.
During the budget speech, Minister of Finance and Economic Development Kenneth Matambo said nothing about minimum wages. Initially, Matambo’s ministry was tasked with assessing the current state of wages and making a recommendation to government, that is yet to happen.