MASERU – The average monthly earnings paid to Basotho in 2019 was about M4,000. This is according to Bureau of Statistics (BOS) labour force survey undertaken in 2019 before the advent of the coronavirus and its findings published this year. “According to the results, the national mean monthly earnings was estimated at M4,058.54,” read the report. It added: “The average monthly earnings for males was M4,672.92, while the female average was lower at M3,377.22.”
The labour force survey was introduced by the Ministry of Development Planning, through its department of the Bureau of Statistics (BOS) and in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour and Employment. The main aim of the survey is to collect, compile and analyse numerical information based on the labour market for evidence-based policy making and planning. “This report provides the key findings of the 2019 LFS,” development planning minister Selibe Mochoboroane said.
“The Ministry of Development Planning wishes to express its gratitude to the BOS staff for their hard work during different stages of the survey,” Mochoboroane said. “The ministry also expresses appreciation to the Basotho nation for their usual willingness to provide survey information,” Mochoboroane added. The previous labour force survey was conducted in 2008.
“The 2019 LFS provides information about the size, composition and characteristics of the labour force,” Mochoboroane said. “In particular”, he added, “the survey captured information on participation of women and men in all forms of work, a comprehensive measurement of participation in subsistence activities, as well as underutilisation of youth and persons living in rural areas.”
The study found that 83.8 percent of wage employment population is paid on a monthly basis. “The second, third and fourth highest represented frequencies were annual, every two weeks and hourly, while the least frequency of receiving gross earnings was daily,” the report read. “A higher percentage (77.4) of persons employed by someone were able to report actual earnings, while 21.6 and 1.0 percent did not know and refused to divulge figures of their earnings respectively.
“LFS also indicates that males’ mean monthly earnings (M4, 672.92) were higher than that of their female counterparts (M3, 377.22),” it added. The urban population, the study found, had the highest average monthly earnings of M5,252.37 as compared to M2,766.59 in rural areas and M3,767.77 in peri-urban areas. The report read: “At the district level, the employed population residing in Botha-Bothe had the highest mean monthly earnings of M5,269.82.”
The president of Lesotho Workers Association (LWA) Hlalefang Seoahiolimo told Public Eye yesterday that it was shameful that workers earned so little yet “they are the backbone of Lesotho’s economy”. “The monthly average salary is not very far away from the minimum wage. It is shameful that that in a country whose population earns so little MPs (Members of Parliament) have given themselves M5,000 monthly fuel allowances,” Seoaholimo said.
Earlier this year, the national assembly – Lesotho’s lower House, passed the Members of Parliament (Amendment of schedule) Regulations of 2020 which entitle legislators to M5,000 monthly tax-free fuel allowances.
These regulations sparked an outcry with a group of youth demanding that the regulations be revoked as a matter of urgency. “Our stance is very clear: giving Members of Parliament lucrative allowances when the Covid-19 pandemic is pushing thousands of Basotho into extreme poverty will make Lesotho a society based on poverty for many and prosperity for a few, characterised by islands of wealth, surrounded by a sea of poverty,” the group said.
The group said Jean Jacques Rousseau, a renowned political philosopher and leading figure in the French Revolution, once said: “When the people shall have nothing more to eat, they will eat the rich.” The rich that Rousseau was referring to, according to the group, was anyone in power. “We will keep fighting for workers to earn decent wages,” Seoaholimo said.
“It is disappointing that an average salary is M2,000 yet we have MPs who think they deserve M5,000 as fuel allowance. It is shows that they are out of touch with reality,” he added. BOS said the reported gross earnings had different frequency of remuneration and indicated that it was therefore decided that aligning some earnings to the standard monthly frequency was necessary.
It said aligning the reported figures to the standard frequency involved the following:
- The reported yearly earnings were divided by 12;
- The reported daily earnings were multiplied by 30,
- The reported weekly earnings were multiplied by 4.
Having raised the reported earnings to the standard, it said, it was vital to come up with measurements that can be used to describe the central tendency earnings of employees. “Two of such measures are the median and the mean. The mean monthly earnings were computed by summing all the reported earnings of all employees and dividing by the number of employees” read the report.
It added: “The median monthly earnings were simply the earning which is in the middle of the earnings distribution. That is, when all individual earnings are arranged in ascending order, the earning that divides the total number of earnings in half is the median earning. “The mean and median earnings were computed using SPSS and were cross tabulated to enable disaggregation by various demographic and socio-economic variables.”