Saturday, October 25, 2008

Keynote Address by His Excellency Mr. Festus G. Mogae at the 2008 Annual Orapa and Letlhakane Mines Retirees` Function, held in Orapa

source: Republic of Botswana (25/10/08): TAUTONA TIMES no 33 of 2008
The Weekly Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President "Democracy, Development, Dignity and Discipline"


[Salutations]...Ladies and Gentlemen, Good Evening!

1. I am pleased to have been invited to speak at this important function that honours men and women who have contributed immensely to the development of Botswana. Your company is a key player in the development of this country and it is, therefore, an honour to be associated with such an economic giant.

2. This occasion is a bittersweet one because we are honouring your dedication and contribution to Debswana and at the same time bidding you farewell as you leave the company. Bagaetsho, retirement is a time to look back with satisfaction and ahead with anticipation. It offers you the opportunity to reflect and manage your own time. It is also a challenge to survive without formal employment. But depending on what you are going to do, you might find that you are busier than when you were working.

3. I'm talking from experience because when I retired in April this year I expected to disappear and live a quieter and more relaxed life but, alas! the contrary is the case. I am just as busy in retirement as I was in office, the difference being that I am no longer in charge of the country. The same will apply to many of you as you leave the confines of Debswana. Some of you will retire into farming and others venture into business, but whatever your decision, let it be dignified and progressive.

4. Do not fade into oblivion but use the knowledge, skills and experience you acquired during your productive years with Debswana to contribute to the development of your communities. You should volunteer your services to Village Development Committees and other community-based organisations.

5. Tonight you are celebrating the culmination of a career that has helped Botswana prosper, and you should be proud of that. The diamonds that you produced over the years did not only earn you a salary but paid for educating the whole nation, for the development of infrastructure such as roads, hospitals, clinics, and schools, to mention a few. Your diamonds have transformed Botswana from a dusty poor country into a modern middle-income economy.

6. Orapa and Letlhakane mines have a progressive initiative called Diamonds for Development Awareness aimed at protecting Botswana diamonds by raising awareness about the dangers of illicit diamonds trade. I urge you to continue supporting this campaign by educating your communities about the importance of Botswana's diamonds for development.

7. Bagaetsho, I trust that you have been preparing for this day during your years of service by investing part of your money into pension and other investment schemes. I am informed that Debswana takes care of its employees and that guarantees you to either leave with a pension or sizeable gratuity.

8. Whatever you are entitled to, the challenge is to invest some of the money for a rainy day. These are dividends of your years of service which need to be handled gingerly like a basket of eggs. You will never receive such a large sum of money again unless you win lotto.

9. We have seen instances of people who have served diligently but only to become destitute on retirement because they failed to invest their benefits properly. We do not want that to happen to you but that it could only be avoided if you invest your money wisely. In fact, we are supposed to start preparing for our retirement the first day we start work and not when we are about to go.

10. The Government has introduced a number of initiatives to encourage Batswana participate in the diversification of the economy away from minerals. This offers you an investment avenue to consider. You are better placed to know that diamonds are not forever. We have to diversify our economy to sustain economic development.

11. I urge you to explore business or investment opportunities that could assist in economic diversification and employment creation. We implore people such yourself to actively participate in the development of the private sector as investors. It is through the private sector that our dream of economic diversification could be realised.

12. In conclusion, let me commend Debswana management and employees for your contribution to the development of this country. It is because of your dedication, commitment and good corporate governance that Botswana's culture of prudent resource management is regarded highly throughout the world. We have been invited to other countries to share our experience of successful resource management.

13. I was proud to share with the world our Diamonds for Development story and pledge to do so whenever an opportunity arises. As you leave your company I appeal to you to join your communities in the campaign against HIV and AIDS. As you are certainly aware this epidemic has killed thousands of our fellow citizens. It is the duty of every citizen to join in the war against HIV and AIDS. I thank you.

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