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Chaos at Air Botswana as retrenchment looms

Some engineers and technicians alike at Air Botswana will lose their jobs before the end of December 2019 as inside assessment has found their designations to be redundant resulting in the national airliner becoming overstaffed, it has emerged.

Fresh information reaching this publication is that Air Botswana which has been dogged by financial constraints for years is currently embarking on reconstruction and has engaged consultancy as it benchmarks on different airlines across Africa with similar operations but doing better than the local airline. At the end of a consultancy report received by Air Botswana, information has revealed, is the loss of jobs and some departments like that of engineering will bear the brunt.

WeekendPost can reveal that this week on Wednesday, Air Botswana management called an emergency meeting to confirm that some workers will be retrenched. At the emergency meeting which was called by the airline’s maintenance director, the staff was informed of how to prepare the staff for the looming retrenchments. A leaked audio that was heard by this publication can reveal that it was discussed at this meeting that the airline does no longer find it sustainable or efficient to have more staff while still having financial troubles.

Moreover, the engineering department was amongst the target of the mass laying of as an example was given that having more than five engineers working on a job that can be done by an individual was not rational. “For sure we are going to downsize, that is reduce the number of technicians and engineers,” said the meeting coordinator this Wednesday in a leaked audio. Chaos and misunderstanding erupted in this meeting as staff blamed management for concealing a lot of information on why Air Botswana is laying of employers.

According to staff, the management only cites overstaffing as a main reason for retrenchments. However a source said the national airline is retrenching because of lack of performing fleet. Some aircrafts are not used and this fuels high operational costs, said an insider. To staff, it is not clear as to whether Air Botswana operates as a domestic, regional and transcontinental airline, this renders it operationally haphazard. Air Botswana recently introduced Gaborone-Qatar under much fanfare. This route will be operated by Qatar Airways. The national airline has for some time been toying with the idea of introducing Gaborone-Berlin route.

“Air Botswana exists with no clear definition of what type of airline it is, this creates a lot of confusion in terms of fleet selection, route selection. The model of operating the airline is wrong and it is evident that we have issues as a division,” revealed the source. The introduction of Gaborone-Cape Town route is said to have affected the airline as it is not used as expected. It has been suggested by information gathered by this publication that mostly commuters who use Air Botswana prefer the tourist bound route of Cape Town-Maun.

Further information gathered by this publication is that management has admitted to be going back to the drawing board and have engaged a consultant from Swaziland on the Cape Town-Gaborone route. Some at the national airline complain that government has neglected Air Botswana. Sources close to developments revealed that the reason why President Mokgweetsi sought partnerships with big airlines like Qatar Airways shows lack of faith for Air Botswana.

The last time government committed to Air Botswana is when it approached the funding facility of Public Service Debt Fund (PSDF) of P230 million for acquiring two jets and the first one has arrived in last day of 2018. Air Botswana still fancies chances of privatization, a process which is currently ongoing. Last year government handed Air Botswana to PEEPA and Minister of Transport and Communications even told parliament that PEEPA has appointed Deloitte Consulting as a “Transaction Advisor” for Air Botswana privatization.  

Currently, Air Botswana has engaged Kenya Airways Maintenance Organization for technical support on their Embraer E170. This is the same aircraft which was destined for the non-performing Gaborone-Cape Town route. The E170 jet is said to have been not operating for almost seven months. This publication also understands that the jet is an eight year old second hand having been procured from the UK leading professional aircraft registration company, Southern Aircraft Consultancy. The E170 is said to have already bled Air Botswana of maintenance money as it arrived with technical faults.

According to information reaching this Botswana can only perform line maintenance or base maintenance up to C-checks and any component that requires overhaul has to be shipped abroad, in most cases grounding aircrafts. As Kenya Airways is engaged in maintaining of this jet, this may be the reason why some local technicians and engineers find their positions redundant at Air Botswana, information has suggested. They are losing job to their Kenyan counterparts.

The national airline is proved to be unable to expand its route base, according to observers. While it is still suffering to run the Gaborone-Cape town route which sometimes on and off, experts believes the Gaborone-Lusaka-Harare route which has been promised in the first quarter of this year by Air Botswana is almost a wild goose chase.

After procuring a second hand jet which has failed to perform since its arrival on 31 December 2018, the second jet which was expected in June this year has not yet arrived. Some sources said management now finds it illogical for government to bring another second hand jet from the same Southern Aircraft Consultancy while the other one is costly and none performing. Also some experts do not understand why Air Botswana or government procured Embraer 170 instead of new Embraer models like E135 or E145.

WeekendPost can reveal that the second hand jet which was expected to arrive in June has not yet arrived. The E 170 serial number is 17000319 and bears registration code N735A is still stored at the Southern Aircraft Consultancy. Failure of arrival of the expected jet, outsourcing of most of maintenance work and non-performing of some routes summarizes the national airliner’s decision to cut jobs. 

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Transgender persons in Botswana live a miserable life

23rd November 2020
Transgender persons

An international report complied in South Africa dubbed ‘Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana’ says that the transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana live a miserable life. The community experiences higher levels of discrimination, violence and ill health.

In this report, it has been indicated that this is because their gender identity, which does not conform to narrowly define societal norms, renders them more vulnerable. Gender identity is a social determinant of health, which means that it is a factor that influences people’s health via their social context, their communities and their experiences of social exclusion. The Ministry of Health and Wellness has recognized this, and transgender people are considered a vulnerable population under the Botswana Second National Strategic Framework for HIV and AIDS 2010-2017.

In a recent study that shed light on the lived experiences of transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana, transgender persons often experience discrimination because of their gender identity and expression. The study was conducted by the University of Cape Town, LEGABIBO, BONELA, as well as Rainbow Identity Association and approved by the Health Ministry as well as the University of Botswana.

Of the 77 transgender and gender non-conforming people who participated in the study, less than half were employed. Two thirds, which is approximately 67% said that they did not have sufficient funds to cover their everyday needs. Two in five had hidden health concerns from their healthcare provider because they were afraid to disclose their gender identity.

More than half said that because of their gender identity, they had been treated disrespectfully at a healthcare facility (55%), almost half (46%) said they had been insulted at a healthcare facility, and one quarter (25%) had been denied healthcare because of their gender identity.

At the same time, the ‘Are we doing right’ study suggests that transgender and non-conforming people might be at higher risks of experiencing violence and mental ill-health, compared to the general population. More than half had experienced verbal embarrassment because of their gender identity, 48% had experienced physical violence and more than one third (38%) had experienced sexual violence.

The study showed that mental health concerns were high among transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana. Half of the transgender and gender non-conforming study participants (53%) showed signs of depression. Between one in four and one in six showed signs of moderate or severe anxiety (22% among transgender women, 24% among transgender men and 17% among gender non-conforming people).

Further, the study revealed that many had attempted suicide: one in three transgender women (32%), more than one in three transgender men (35%) and three in five gender non-conforming people (61%).

International research, as well as research from Botswana, suggests that not being able to change one’s gender marker has a negative impact on access to healthcare and mental health and wellbeing. The study further showed that one in four transgender people in Botswana (25%) had been denied access to healthcare. This is, at least in part, linked to not being able to change one’s gender marker in the identity documents, and thus not having an identity document that matches one’s gender identity and gender expression.

In its Assessment of Legal and Regulatory Framework for HIV, AIDS and Tuberculosis, the Health Ministry noted that “transgender persons in Botswana are unable to access identity documents that reflect their gender identity, which is a barrier to health services, including in the context of HIV. In one documented case, a transwoman’s identity card did not reflect her gender identity- her identity card photo indicated she was ‘male’. When she presented her identity card at a health facility, a health worker called the police who took her into custody.”

The necessity of a correct national identity document goes beyond healthcare. The High Court of Botswana explains that “the national identity document plays a pivotal role in every Motswana’s daily life, as it links him or her with any service they require from various institutions. Most activities in the country require every Motswana to produce their identity document, for identification purposes of receiving services.”

According to the Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana report, this effectively means that transgender, whose gender identity and expression is likely to be different from the sex assigned to them at birth and from what is recorded on their identity document, cannot access services without risk of denial or discrimination, or accusations of fraud.

In this context, gays and lesbians advocacy group LEGABIBO has called on government through the Department of Civil and National Registration to urgently implement the High Court rulings on gender marker changes. As stated by the High Court in the ND vs Attorney General of Botswana judgement, identity cards (Omang) play an important role in the life of every Motswana. Refusal and or delay to issue a Motswana with an Omang is denying them to live a complete and full-filing life with dignity and violates their privacy and freedom of expression.

The judgement clarified that persons can change their gender marker as per the National Registrations Act, so changing the gender marker is legally possible. There is no need for a court order. It further said the person’s gender is self-identified, there is no need to consult medical doctors.

LEGABIBO also called on government to develop regulations that specify administrative procedure to change one’s gender marker, and observing self-determination process. Further, the group looks out for government to ensure members of the transgender community are engaged in the development of regulations.

“We call on this Department of Civil and National Registration to ensure that the gender marker change under the National Registration Act is aligned to the Births and Deaths Registry Act to avoid court order.

Meanwhile, a gay man in Lobatse, Moabi Mokenke was recently viciously killed after being sexually violated in the streets of Peleng, shockingly by his neighbourhood folks. The youthful lad, likely to be 29-years old, met his fate on his way home, from the wearisome Di a Bowa taverns situated in the much populated township of Peleng Central.

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Khato Civils fights back, dares detractors

23rd November 2020

CEO of Khato Civils Mongezi Mnyani has come out of the silence and is going all way guns blazing against the company’s adversaries who he said are hell-bent on tarnishing his company’s image and “hard-earned good name”

Speaking to WeekendPost from South Africa, Mnyani said it is now time for him to speak out or act against his detractors. Khato Civils has done several projects across Africa. Khato Civils, a construction company and its affiliate engineering company, South Zambezi have executed a number of world class projects in South Africa, Malawi and now recently here in Botswana.

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UDC petitioners turn to Saleshando

23rd November 2020
Dumelang Saleshando

About ten (10) Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) parliamentary candidates who lost the 2019 general election and petitioned results this week met with UDC Vice President, Dumelang Saleshando to discuss the way forward concerning the quandary that is the legal fees put before them by Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) lawyers.

For a while now, UDC petitioners who are facing the wrath of quizzical sheriffs have demanded audience with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC) but in vain. However after the long wait for a tete-a-tete with the UDC, the petitioners met with Saleshando accompanied by other NEC members including Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, Reverend Mpho Dibeela and Dennis Alexander.

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