At least two in ten Batswana are unemployed, despite claims by President Mokgweetsi Masisi in 2023 that his government created 100,000 jobs. Botswana’s unemployment rate is edging closer to its highest-ever figure since 2008. 

The Bank of Botswana’s 2023 annual report released this week says that although total employment figures rose from 717, 725 persons in 2022 to 788, 616 in 2023, the country’s economy is failing to create enough jobs for the expanding labour force. Youth unemployment has also increased from 33.5% in 2022 to 34.4% in 2023.

Botswana unemployment rate climbed to 25.9% in 2023, according to the central bank’s 2023 annual report released this week. The figures suggest that the Southern African nation is at risk of hitting the 26.2% unemployment rate recorded during the 2008 financial crisis.

President Masisi took office in 2018 on a promise to create “thousands of jobs.” In his last State of the Nation address in November 2023, he claimed to have created 100,000 jobs. The central bank’s figures dent President Masisi’s second term bid which has focused on appealing to the country’s youth electorate. Through numerous job creation initiatives like the P500 million ($37 million) Chema-Chema Fund, which funds entrepreneurial ventures, Masisi seeks to deliver the fleeting job creation promise.

“Some of us have been unemployed since he took office and we are going to the next elections in the next few months and nothing has changed,” said Kagiso, an engineering graduate. 

Ahead of the general election in late 2024, President Masisi of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), which has been in power since independence in 1966 has made several references to the success of his government’s job promises. In a recent political campaign, Masisi said his government’s policies had proven efficient in “creating jobs and improving quality of life.”

The government remains the largest employer in the country, with more than 18% of the country’s labour force. The country’s crown jewel, the mining industry, which accounts for 35% of GDP, only created 11,412 jobs or 1% of total employment in the country.

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