President Ian Khama has expressed concern over the looming strike, saying it will heavily impact on the economy of the country.
This follows his refusal to meet the Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) to negotiate over salaries ahead of the strike scheduled for Monday (tomorrow).
During a kgotla meeting in Natale Village in the Tonota North Constituency, Khama said that the country’s economy is already running at a deficit of P7 billion with the strike posing a more devastating blow.
“The government does not have enough funds for other developments and the current burning issue is that public employees are going on a strike which is going to make it even worse,” he said to the residents.
Khama told the villagers that he finds it strange that the employees are busy seeking a salary increment forgetting to note that the country, just like the rest of the world, is trying to recover from the aftermath of the global economic crisis.
He went on to attack the public service employees, saying that they should know better as they work in government offices and in different ministries that the government has shelved many projects due to insufficient funds.
“I find it ironic that the government employees equipped with better knowledge that our economy is running at a deficit, continue to demand a salary increment,” Khama told the villagers.
The President went on to say that at least the Botswana government, unlike other countries, did not decide to lay off employees during the recession but rather, it resolved to retain their jobs bearing in mind their welfare. Khama stated that at least the government had to take the plight of the unemployed and the disadvantaged citizens by introducing the programmes like Integrated Support Programme for Arable Agricultural Development (ISPAAD) and Ipelegeng.
“If you have got a job and you feel that the expense of living is high, what about those who are completely unemployed,” he remarked.
The President went on to tell the Kgotla meeting that, currently, the public employees are paid about P12 billion, adding that the government contributes to their benefits, such as pension funds, medical aid benefits and even loans.
Khama further stated that when he got into power in April 2008, he made sure that most of the government employees are given accommodation to be able to do their duties well.
The BOFEPUSU countrywide strike, which will take place, will be the first of its kind in the history of the country and different government employees from different sectors of government are expected to take part.
The strike is expected to take 10 working days.