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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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Woman swindled out of P62 000 by fake CID officers

17th June 2021
Motube

Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.

According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.

“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.

The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.

Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.

“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’

They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.

In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.

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BCP walks out of UDC meeting

15th June 2021
Boko and Saleshando

Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.

UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.

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Katlholo wins against DPP

15th June 2021
DCEC DIRECTOR: Tymon Katlholo

The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.

The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.

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