Khama's statement is contrary to the government position in the stalled talks with unions where Department of Public Service Management (DPSM) has tabled two offers of pay hikes. The President said during his tour of Tonota North constituency villages on Thursday that the public sector is seeking increments at a financially difficult time for the government. He wondered why the Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) is attacking the government.
"This surprises me because the government has made it clear that there is no money," he said. He faulted civil servants for seeking higher pay yet they work in government and know the financial position of the state. He said
"Botswana is currently experiencing a budget deficit of over P7 billion and the government is struggling to get the P12 billion needed annually to pay civil servants. He said the strike is going to cripple the economy of Botswana and will not be easy to recover from the effects. He stated that the economy is still recovering from recession and the strike will make matters worse. "Major development projects were halted due to lack of funds. Unemployed people depend on the government poverty eradication schemes like the Ipelegeng, youth grants and the old age pension. If we give workers 16 percent increment, should we stop supporting the poor and the old?" Khama asked. He said the government should be recommended for making sure that civil servants were not retrenched during the economic meltdown. He said the public servants are ungrateful and now want to engage in strikes as a 'thank you' to the government.
"The government made pension schemes for public servants. It contributes 15 percent whilst public servants pay 5 percent. The government pays 50 percent of their medical aid. There are also salary advances to keep them from loan sharks, plus we give them loans. These are the benefits they are ungrateful for," Khama lamented.
He said that unlike Botswana, Britain is currently in plans to retrench at least 300,000 to 450,000 workers because it cannot pay them. "Retrenchment has not been our option. Public servants should rethink. If the living expenses are costly for the employed, then how would they be for the unemployed?" he wondered.
The President pleaded with the public servants to call off the strike because the industrial action will not avail the money for the increment. He explained that the government wishes to increase salaries but there is no money. He said that the strike will cripple the economy for years and government will be compelled to retrench the public servants, thus increasing the statistics of unemployment in Botswana.