Botswana President Ian Khama on Friday night urged Batswana to work hard for the country in a bid to position it along modern trends of the global economy.
Speaking at the University of Botswana Foundation Dinner Dance for 2008, Khama, who looked relaxed amid being called a lot of names, told the gathering that he had now politically matured and took any label as something that “comes with the job”.
“During my first years from the military, I used to respond strongly to that but now I think it comes with the job,” he said, referring to a barrage of names that he is being called.
However, Khama stood firm on his commitment of trying to improve service delivery in the country, saying that he is surprised that people work hard and long hours at funerals and weddings where they do not get paid, but, when it comes to their salaried jobs, they tend to let standards get lower.
The speech, “Repositioning Botswana Through Excellence”, marked his first address to the University of Botswana Foundation as its Chancellor since assuming the presidency of the country at the beginning of April.
“Contrary to popular view, Batswana are hard workers. But I do not understand how we can put so much effort at community activities, such as funerals and weddings where we do not get paid and have poor performance where we are salaried,” he complained.
Khama further warned the nation to quickly respond to the global realities and make some adjustments in an attempt to be in line with the trends.
“We have to unlock opportunities (in the economy) for citizens’ involvement,” he said, adding that the nation has to move away from issues of entitlement and every man has to be judged according to his performance and deliverance.
“No man, in the modern days, no person, is an island and we have to create a conducive environment for foreign investors.
“Accepting the current situation as status quo will lead us to stagnation. And we have to understand that we owe this country to the future generation and we will have to be the path finders,” he added.
Khama challenged the nation to beat the unbeatables, such as the Chinese and Germans, in terms of work ethics saying Batswana have to produce the most productive labour force proud of skill development and hard work.
Further, he pointed out that University students’ strikes should come to an end since their education is being sponsored and since they are given allowances by government and that they should, instead, concentrate on their books.
“We have to adopt zero tolerance on some of these things. If they do strike and destroy property then they will loose their scholarships which will be given to more deserving people,” he said.