SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY THE PRESIDENT LIEUTENANT GENERAL DR. SERETSE KHAMA IAN KHAMA AT THIS MORNING's OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE 2016 PUBLIC SERVICE DAY CELEBRATIONS - THEME: "FIFTY YEARS OF SERVICE TO THE NATION: UNITED AND PROUD"
...Ladies and gentlemen,
1. A very good morning to you all.
2. It is indeed my pleasure and honour to officiate at this '2016 Public Service Day Celebrations' that will be taking place throughout this week. The commemorations, hosted under the theme 50 Years of Service to the Nation: United and Proud, mark an important aspect of our human capital recognition that we hold in high regard in the public service.
3. Indeed this year marks not just the fifth year of these celebrations but also over fifty years in which the Botswana public service has been giving service to the nation. More importantly, it marks fifty years of commitment to improved livelihoods that this Government has made to all its people which includes public officers.
4. I wish to acknowledge all Public officers for having been part of this journey, including the pioneers. The birth and dawn of an independent Botswana propelled them to build this country from humble beginnings.
5. In 1966 when Botswana gained independence, the preparation of the Public Service for the constitutional and structural changes was greatly challenged by the fact that the seat of the central government was in Mafikeng, in South Africa.
6. Transformation was imperative. The move of the capital city to Gaborone triggered a sudden expansion of central government from not more than 25 officers under the Resident Commissioner in Mafikeng to 275 posts in the seven Ministries which were created in 1967.
7. The challenges faced by the newly formed public service in the new capital were exacerbated by the departure of a number of qualified expatriates after independence. At that time, local officers were inadequately trained and this forced Government to ensure that Batswana would be trained to manage the growth of the economy of their country. Under such circumstances, direction and impetus had to be given to the economy and its architects. The Botswana Government had from the outset stressed the key role of the Public Service in the development process. To serve the country became an honour synonymous with nation building. The same still applies today.
8. The ratio of the expatriates to local officers was particularly marked in the senior(super-scale) cadre with 80% expatriates, administrative cadre with 60% expatriates, professional cadre with 92% expatriates and technical cadre with 83% expatriates. The ambitious target with regard to localisation of the Public Service was to achieve internal self-sufficiency in high level manpower by 1990. In those days public service officers worked where there was no electricity, tarred roads, cell phones, radio, TV, proper running water, using bicycles as transport, no air conditioners and many other lack of facilities and equipment. There are still shortages today but nothing compared to those early days but they served diligently in order to build their country.
9. Looking back to then, we therefore take pride in what Botswana has achieved in capacitating and localising the Public service. We currently have in service, over 120, 000 employees.
10. The Public service has grown both in size, nature and complexity to respond to the increasing and ever changing needs and demands of the modern customer. It continues to build and espouse the work culture through the values that are entrenched in the public service, being the principles of the public service charter. These are: Neutrality, Accountability, Continuity, Duty to be informed, Regard for public interest, Due diligence, Transparency and Freedom from corruption. These principles have no doubt set a strong foundation in which the Botswana Public Service is built.
11. In celebrating our public service we also celebrate innovations to deliver on the pledge we have made to the people of this country for excellent and efficient service delivery. Indeed the success story of Botswana's development from one of the least developed countries to a middle income country is owed to the sacrifice, commitment, loyalty and output of all its people. Any regression will undermine these gains; hence the need for a committed public service that will continue to uphold the values that have built this country.
12. Recognition of performance is a key factor for employee motivation and growth. In recognising both the individual and collective effort of our employees, we are paving the way and shaping a future public service that sets an example for all Batswana wherever they work of a mindset and work ethic that should be efficient and productive.
13. In my time as leader of this country, I have travelled the length and breadth of this country and have met Public officers from across all levels. These meetings have assisted me to appreciate the contribution of the public service in the improvement of the quality of lives of Batswana. The meetings have equally helped me appreciate the challenges they have to contend with. Through such meetings, we have together come up with suggestions to some of these challenges.
14. Whilst I will be the first to appreciate and support the role and virtue, of public service employees, I am equally concerned by issues in some cases of declining performance and productivity as reflected by those that rate us and our customers. Government employees continue to be critical in the delivery of services and should continue to strive for improved performance, customer service and demonstration of; befitting ethos, professional behaviour and conduct. Remember however, there is no them and us. That is, the public service and the rest of our citizens. Public service officers are part of our customers as well. You too receive service from your colleagues as their customers. So do your parents, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles and friends. What services you provide is for them as well as yourselves and the many others. We are in this together. Your productivity and efficiency will benefit all including yourselves in this regard.
15. Batswana have continually asked for a sustainable and growing economy to provide them with jobs, better health care and education. You will be aware that this is the promise that I made to Batswana when I took office in 2008. You would also be aware that, when I took office, my time coincided with the global economic downturn of 2008. The challenges that we faced as a country were numerous and had a devastating impact on our economy and the pledge that I had made to Batswana for a prosperous economy.
16. With the sale of diamonds at an all-time low, we had to review our priorities as a country as well as how, as a Government we would best deliver on the promise of a better life. In spite of the challenges, my government determined fairly early into the crisis, that public service employees would not lose their jobs because of the economic downturn. I am glad to say that even though it was not easy, we managed. Unfortunately the poor economic situation then continues to this day, a time when the challenges facing this country have worsened with regard for example, the mining sector and national water needs and the drought.
17. Social dialogue has, from time immemorial, been an integral part of Botswana's culture and development. It is founded upon our principle of 'Therisanyo,' which embodies open dialogue and mutual respect. Consistent with this principle, our legislative framework provides for consultations and collective bargaining. This profound principle of human existence has brought this country this far, and will continue to play a critical role in taking it forward.
18. As we look with optimism to the next fifty years of peace and prosperity, I want to encourage all of us to learn from the journey we have travelled. I am of the firm opinion that ours is a bright future as we work together.
19. I think it will be remiss of me if I do not recognise the role of our various cooperating partners, especially in the development and capacity building of our employees. More than 80% of the countries represented in Botswana have had significant share in this sphere right from the early years of our Independence to present day. Your contributions and matured partnership has borne fruit. Many of our professionals have benefited from your donor assistance and institutions of learning.
20. I wish to take this opportunity to congratulate those who have demonstrated excellent performance and will be recognised during the lined up excellence performance awards. I also wish to urge those who did not make the mark to work hard to improve. As I have stated before, we only have one country, only we can make it what we want it to be.
21. I wish to thank all former public service employees who have laid a very solid foundation for this public service, one which we still stand on to this day.
22. In conclusion, I wish you a successful and fulfilling week of celebrations. You all contributed to making Botswana what she is and we applaud you but we can and must do better. We need to be self motivated. For my part I am motivated to serve not because it is just a duty for which I get paid, but for the love of my God, my country and its people. I spend hours of so-called free time to interact with Batswana so that I can better understand their challenges in order to serve them better, without claiming overtime and offs. Salary and allowances and other entitlements should not be the motivation to serve the nation. As much as you do need them to sustain yourself, your service should not be conditional on receiving them. Let us all walk that extra mile to help others and by so doing make this country of ours prosperous for generations to come. It is now my singular honour and pleasure to declare the 2016 Public Service day celebrations officially opened.
PULA PULA PULA!