Sunday, September 27, 2020

Legislature bemoans foreigners grab localised jobs

Member of Parliament (MP) for Selibe Phikwe West Dithapelo Keorapetse has decried that a significant number of foreigners hired in Botswana are without special skills not available locally depriving citizens of opportunities.  

Acting Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development (MELSD) Claude Mojafi admitted before the Parliamentary Accounts Committee that there is lack of labour market database. He said the Human Resources Development Council (HRDC) is working on the establishment of the database.

Keorapetse, who is also the PAC chairman, observed that foreigners continue to take jobs that would be filled by the local citizens.

“There is a pattern of companies bringing foreigners in mining and chain stores who are not specialists while others do not have required qualifications,” bemoaned the MP.

For his part, Mojafi stated Botswana has been experiencing challenges with regard to productivity and work ethic issues for the past few years. He added that the World Bank Group’s Doing Business Reports have repeatedly indicated poor work ethic as one of the most problematic attributes for doing business in the country.

“I am advised, by staff that prior to the rationalization of ministries, the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) conducted an audit at MLHA, which identified corrupt practices within the procurement processes and procedures,” said Mojafi.

He further stated that to monitor compliance to labour laws, the ministry conducted 2665 labour inspections–against a target of 4560. He said 87 percent compliance rate was recorded among those (2665) inspected. He added that the common contraventions noted during inspections were; failure to insure workers and failure to maintain employment records. Corrective measures as provided for, by the law, were taken against non-compliant establishments.   

In relation to mediation, Mojafi stated that the ministry handled a total of 3,294 case, adding that out of this number, 1,925 (58.4 percent) cases were mediated during the period under review. He said particularly high numbers of trade disputes were recorded in Maun, Francistown, Palapye and Gaborone. He is of the view that this is attributed to high economic activities in these areas and he added that the increased activity adversely affected the turnaround time for the mediation of cases. 

As for arbitration, he said a total of 70 cases were heard and were awaiting enforcement of arbitration awards by the Commissioner of Labour. He stated that appropriate interventions, by the Commissioner were hampered by some limitations in the Trade Disputes Act, 2016. 

“Registration and placement of jobseekers: In the period under review a total of 19,023 job seekers were registered, out of which 16,894 were placed,” said Mojafi.

Mojafi said he ministry continues to facilitate employment through the issuance of work permits to investors and employees. He spoke of emergency Work Permits, Exemption Certificates and Long-Term Permits. He said the turnaround time for the issuance of work permits is still a challenge for the ministry. 

“Due to capacity constraints, in the area of adequate personnel and automation, the monitoring of training and localization performance areas remains a challenge. This results in non-citizens holding positions for a long or unreasonable time,” said Mojafi.

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Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.