Employees of the controversial government social program scheme, Ipelegeng, are treated as part of permanent workers by the government data agency, Statistics Botswana (SB) when quantifying the number of employed persons in the country.
The Minister responsible for Development, Kenneth Matambo, told Parliament last week that the exercise of including Ipelegeng workers on employment figures is to satisfy the International Labour Organisation (ILO) requirements that guide data collection regarding employment.
Matambo was answering a question from Kanye North Member of Parliament (MP), Kentse Rammidi who had asked whether Statistics Botswana includes people engaged in Ipelegeng as employed when computing the unemployment rate of the country.
Confirming to parliament that indeed Statistics Botswana includes the numbers of people engaged in Ipelegeng as employed when computing the unemployment rate of the country, Matambo said, “This is because Botswana subscribes to ILO definition of employment, which describes an employed person as someone within the working age group, who, during the Reference Period, performed some economic activity.”
Ipelegeng workers are currently earning around P400 per month which is below the country’s minimum wage bill. Botswana’s minimum wage is currently at P450 per month. Elsewhere workers earn average income earnings of P4000 per month.
Available statistics shows that as of last year unemployment (18 years and over) in Botswana stood at 17.5 percent, down from 23.5 percent at the beginning of 2007.┬á
President Ian Khama said recently when addressing the nation that, “To further augment efforts to reduce unemployment, Government in collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO) is currently formulating a National Employment Policy, to provide for better coordination of existing employment-intensive investments.
Government has allocated P580 million in 2013/2014 budget to the Ipelegeng programme which has attracted criticism since inception by the Khama administration some few years back. Some sectors of the society argue that the programme is unsustainable and cannot be classified under ‘decent jobs’.
Ipelegeng workers are hired on rotational basis usually for a period that is not beyond 12 months.