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In this quote, Mokokoma Mokhonoana is suggesting that people do not properly value their limited time because it is not something they have to work to earn or be compensated for. If time was a commodity that had to be paid for like money, Mokhonoana implies we would be far more judicious about how we choose to fill our hours.
The key message is that time may be taken less for granted if it came at a cost, rather than being a constant 24 hours each day that can seem abundant if not treated as precious. By saying we would “rarely waste time” if it was earned, Mokhonoana encourages appreciating every moment as valuable instead of something that can be squandered without consequence.