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How Wilderness Holdings beat CemAir

The original intention was never to sell off Air Botswana, fresh information has revealed. Paper trail seen by this publication points to a Presidential Directive that directed the Ministry of Transport and Communications to turn Air Botswana into a company with private shareholding, and Wilderness Holdings was to be a partner with the Government of Botswana.


Notwithstanding the decision by Wilderness Holdings to withdraw its expression of interest in Air Botswana, the Public Enterprise Evaluation and Privatization Agency (PEEPA) is already working on a process to turn Air Botswana into a company, and a draft constitution is already circulating for comments.


One of the objectives of turning Air Botswana into a private company is to engage the private sector in the ownership and management of Air Botswana to ensure continued provision of air travel services in the domestic, regional and international markets by a viable and efficient airline.


Furthermore the intention by government is to sustain business travel within and to Botswana and also support and grow tourism travel to the country. Importantly it was emphasized to interested bidders that government was looking at reducing its future financial commitment in the airline.


Bidders were to further grow the aviation sector and its contribution to the economy through private sector participation. An objective of the government that turned away some of the potential partners is the one that calls for “retaining of the brand Air Botswana.”  The colours, brand, and name Air Botswana are to be retained.


Wilderness Holdings was mentioned in the Presidential Directive as the preferred partner after it was presumed to have satisfied the stated objectives ahead of CemAir. The bid assessors looked at previous experience in the provision of Airline Services; understanding of airline operational and market realities; access to resources; and the extent to which local participation in ownership or operations is possible.


How Wilderness Holdings got the nod


Wilderness Holdings and CemAir’s business models were compared and the model by Wilderness Holdings was found to be the better model of the two to address what the Government intends doing regarding identifying a partner for Air Botswana. The Ministry is of the view that Wilderness Holdings have aviation experience through Wilderness Air, which provides small aircraft charter services tourists.

 

“Wilderness Holdings also have direct contact with tourist’s right from places of origin. They also have the potential to develop tourism air travel to and within Botswana as well as to build onto the existing Air Botswana network and capabilities,” argues Kabelo Ebineng, the accounting officer at the Ministry of Transport and Communications.


Ebineng points to the fact that CemAir’s business model showed that they are well-established, profitable aircraft leasing organization, with a small scheduled operation (seven routes) in South Africa. He says they also have an existing relationship with Air Botswana through the extended lease of a CRJ100 aircraft. “However, they lack international marketing and distribution experience,” says Ebineng.


Sharing on the aviation experience of Wilderness Holdings, Ebineng does not hold back, “Wilderness Holdings Limited began life as Wilderness Safaris in Botswana in 1983. It listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange with secondary listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange on 8 April 2010 and is widely recognized as one of the world’s foremost tourism businesses.


Wilderness Holdings Limited is the holding company for the ecotourism brands of Wilderness Safaris and Wilderness Collection – and the non-profit trusts of Children in the Wilderness and Wilderness Wildlife Trust. Operating some 45 safari camps and lodges, and 10 scheduled overland safaris in Botswana, Congo (Brazzaville), Kenya, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.”  


On CemAir, Ebineng writes: “CemAir is a licensed International and Domestic Scheduled and Non Scheduled air carrier with approval from the South African Department of Transport and Civil Aviation Authority to conduct operations throughout Africa and the Middle East as part 121 and 135 Operator. In addition CemAir is a licensed Part 145 maintenance and repair organization with in house capabilities to maintain all of our own air-craft.” Some within Government are persuading the powers that be to lobby Wilderness Holdings to reconsider its position of withdrawing from the muted partnership.

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BDP decides Balopi’s fate

22nd November 2021
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The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Central Committee (CC) meeting, chaired by President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi late last month, resolved that the party’s next Secretary-General (SG) should be a full-time employee based at Tsholetsa House and not active in politics.

The resolution by the CC, which Masisi proposed, is viewed as a ploy to deflate the incumbent, Mpho Balopi’s political ambitions and send him into political obscurity. The two have not been on good terms since the 2019 elections, and the fallout has been widening despite attempts to reconcile them. In essence, the BDP says that Balopi, who is currently a Member of Parliament, Minister of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development, and a businessman, is overwhelmed by the role.

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BDF-Namibians shootings autopsy report revealed

22nd November 2021
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The Botswana Defence Force (BDF)-Namibians fatal shooting tragedy Inquest has revealed through autopsy report that the BDF carried over 800 bullets for the mission, 32 of which were discharged towards the targets, and 19 of which hit the targets.

This would mean that 13 bullets missed the targets-in what would be a 60 percent precision rate for the BDF operation target shooting. The Autopsy report shows that Martin Nchindo was shot with five (4) bullets, Ernst Nchindo five (5) bullets, Tommy Nchindo five (5) bullets and Sinvula Munyeme five (5) bullets. From the seven (7) BDF soldiers that left the BDF camp in two boats, four (4) fired the shots that killed the Namibians.

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Gov’t confused over Moitoi’s UN job application

22nd November 2021
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The former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi’s decision to apply for the positions of United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) and their deputies (DSRSG), has left the government confused over whether to lend her support or not, WeekendPost has established.

Moitoi’s application follows the Secretary-General’s launch of the third edition of the Global Call for Heads and Deputy Heads of United Nations Field Missions, which aims to expand the pool of candidates for the positions of SRSG) and their deputies to advance gender parity and geographical diversity at the most senior leadership level in the field. These mission leadership positions are graded at the Under-Secretary-General and Assistant Secretary-General levels.

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