The Botswana Federation of Public Sectors Union (BOFEPUSU) and the Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) are campaigning to stop a bill that aims to reduce Botswana’s unemployment. A letter dated 2nd September 2021, signed by BOFEPUSU Secretary General Tobokani Rari and BFTU Secretary General Thusang Butale demands that the bill to be withdrawn from parliamentary debate. The unions pointed out that Botswana has ratified convention 144 on tripartite consultation. On that basis it must be noted that this policy which has direct implications on labour and employment in Botswana is an obvious deliverable of the Decent Work Country Programme whose stewardship falls under the ambit of the Ministry of Employment, Productivity and Skills Development as the Ministry responsible for Labour Administration.”
The two labour movements argued that therefore, the employment policy should be left to the Ministry of Labour and Employment adding that “We therefore find it inappropriate for the Ministry of Finance to be tabling the bill as they are not the relevant Ministry responsible for labour administration in the country.” Flagging that the proposed bill calls for consultation with labour movements, BOFEPUSU and BFTU said “There has not been any pertinent engagement at tripartite level over the policy that is being tabled before Parliament.”
“This goes against the tenets of effective dialogue and tripartite framework which are spelt out in the country’s Decent Work Country’s programme and labour laws. The exclusive approach can only constitute an otherwise avoidable disharmony in industrial relations in the country,” said Rari and Butale in their letter. The two unionists said, “In view of the foregoing we call for the bill to be withdrawn from parliamentary debate and sent back to Ministry of Employment and Skills Development for further engagement by the social partners at relevant social dialogue structures.”
The new policy intends to have reduced employment rate in Botswana to a single digit by 2030, six years before the country’s vision 2036 come to an end. The envisaged policy tasks the Office of Vice President with coordination and ensuring serious and satisfactory output from government job creation efforts. Serame told Parliament that to achieve this, government recognised the need to establish an effective implementation and coordination mechanism for the Policy; a specific monitoring and evaluation framework; as well as evaluation of employment programmes and services on an ongoing basis.
The coordination and implementation mechanism for the Policy proposes that supervision be at a high level, specifically, the office of the Vice President. The Ministry of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development will have the role of coordinating implementation of the Policy Serame said the Ministry of Employment Labour Productivity will be expected to put in place, a comprehensive accountability system for the policy, encompassing, 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.
Regular reports on progress and remedial action needed will be produced and policy evaluation undertaken at least every five years to assess the impact of initiatives and programmes on employment, and to ensure alignment with new developments. Serame said the successful implementation of the policy will depend on various factors such as availability of financial and human resources, participation of the private sector as a key actor in job creation, and effective coordination and monitoring of the Policy.