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Bad Minimum Wage Economics Reaches Botswana

It has been said that the worst colonialism perpetrated was that by the British. By allowing the London School of Economics to teach the leaders of the newly emergent nations how not to run an economy. It would appear that the tradition lives on, for this is certainly bad enough economics:

Scores of opposition MPs on Friday supported Jwaneng-Mabutsane MP Shaun Ntlhaile’s motion and called out government to heed calls to introduce a decent living wage, as it is for the good of all workers in Botswana.

Selibe Phikwe East MP, Dithapelo Keorapetse said the problems Botswana is experiencing in its industrial relations include but not limited to the problem of wealth and income inequalities, the working poor and slave wages. “The lowest paid civil servant in our country earns about P1600 and the highest paid gets around P75 000 without including allowances and there is a huge wage disparity between the two, that is why we end up with the working poor,” he said.

Well, OK, yes that’s all fashionable now, inequality and so on. So, perhaps a living wage, something higher than just a minimum one, in order to reduce the inequality in incomes? Well, obviously, I disagree, but it’s not an entirely mad suggestion all the same. Except we’ve got this as the analysis, from the same politician, of what the problem really is:

According to Keorapetse there reason why there is the working poor in Botswana is primarily due to unemployment because there is excess supply of skilled labour and this has driven the living wage lower.

We’ve unemployment caused by an excess of skilled labour? Therefore we must raise wages? No, that is mad, isn’t it? So bad he could have studied at the LSE.

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6 years ago

“Living wage”? “Wealth and income inequality”? These clichés come straight from San Francisco and it is ludicrous to apply them to Botswana, or to adopt the notion that a worker’s wage should reflect what he would like it to be, rather than what he can produce. Assuming that Dithapelo Keorapetse is democratically elected, it is preposterous for him to claim that economic aggregates are a problem, that the culprit is the only product (labour) of his constituents, and that the solution is for government to dick with the prices. If the price is right and there are no government hindrances… Read more »

Philip Scott Thomas
Philip Scott Thomas
6 years ago

I somehow doubt Mma Ramotswe would approve of this.

6 years ago

I always thought Botswana had the cautionary examples of Zuma’s South Africa and big Bobby Mugabe’s Zimbabwe to see how not to do things. Shame

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