Former Botswana Defence Force (BDF) commander, Lt Gen Tebogo Masire has been appointed the Chairman of the Air Botswana Board. Masire’s appointment comes after the Minister of Transport and Communications, Tshenolo Mabeo’s decision to dissolve the entire Air Botswana board recently.
Masire confirmed his appointment but indicated that he will not say much until his full board is appointed.
As a consequence of the appointment, Masire has resigned his Board membership of the Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana with immediate effect. He awaits the appointment of his fellow board members. The question now is whether Masire will be able to help turn around the ailing Air Botswana by providing strategic leadership. In the 2016/17 budget speech delivered early this month, the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Kenneth Matambo indicated that Air Botswana made a net loss of P165 million in 2015 compared to, P100 million in 2014, mainly due to high costs of maintenance of its old fleet of aircrafts. According to industry experts this fact alone highlights the magnitude of work that awaits Masire and his Board – turning Air Botswana into profitability is a huge undertaking.
Masire also comes at a time when the Airliner has no substantive General Manager. Its former General Manager, Ben Dahwa was shown the door at the same time with the former board. Despite his wealth of experience the Zimbabwean could not turn around the fortunes of Air Botswana, though some of his close associates pointed in the direction of political interference when reasoning his lack of delivery. Masire is well aware that the first experience of businessmen or tourists coming to Botswana is through the national airline, therefore he is heading a very critical institution that has failed to live up to expectations over time.
Aviation experts are convinced that the future of Botswana is hinged on aviation. They argue that there is need to enhance technology at the Airline and there is need to change the way Air Botswana is doing things. Air Botswana has been plagued with delays, an aging fleet, low staff morale, and other challenges in the many years of its existence. Masire’s first task to get things started is to hunt for a chief executive, and it is understood that there is already a lot of lobbying on the corridors.
The usual names are whispered on the ears of potential decision makers even before the post is advertised. Former PEEPA CEO, who has also headed Air Botswana before, Joshua Galeforolwe; former MVA CEO, Cross Kgosidiile; Moses Sekwakwa, the first captain of Air Botswana; Deputy Regional Director of ICAO for Eastern and Southern Africa, Mr. Boitshoko Sekwati, are some of the names that are being considered by those who claim to have interest in seeing Air Botswana compete meaningfully in the aviation space.
The new chairman and his Board will have a decision to make in regard to Air Botswana fleet such as the four Jet BA 146 which have not been used for over a year.
WHO IS TEBOGO MASIRE?
A brief from the Tebogo Foundation website captures Masire thus: “Lieutenant General Masire, the 4th Commander of the Botswana Defence Force, graduated from the East African School of Aviation, in 1975 and the US Airforce Command and Staff College in 1988. He also holds a BSc Degree from Troy State University and an MBA from University of Southern Queensland.
He first worked at the Department of Civil Aviation as an Air Traffic Controller before joining the Military in 1977, when the Botswana Defence Force was formed. He holds the record of being the only member of the first intake of 1977 still in the BDF thirty-five years on! During his 35 years of an illustrious military career, Lt. Gen. Masire has held various operational, staff and command appointments: one of them being the Chief VIP Pilot. He has the honour and privilege of being the only BDF Pilot to have flown all the four Presidents of the Republic of Botswana to over thirty countries.”
The Minister of Justice, Machana Shamukuni says the search to appoint the Ombudsman and other critical heads of department is currently ongoing and the process is expected to be completed before end of the year.
The Ombudsman position fell vacant almost five months ago after Augustine Makgonatsotlhe was removed from the office and appointed as Ambassador to Kuwait.
Two Batswana nationals have been arrested in Zimbabwe for illegal trade in mercury. The duo is being held together with a Zimbabwean national who is being questioned by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP).
This publication understands that the suspects who are aged between 39 and 56 years hail from Tutume and Selebi-Phikwe. At the time of the arrest, they were found in possession of a pistol, bomb motor and four live rounds. It is understood that the suspects told investigators during interrogation that the deadly substance has a lucrative market in Far East countries, where the demand is high. It is further reported that the suspects claimed that the mercury can be easily accessed in mines through middleman.
The Namibian Lives Matter Movement has weighed in on the looming border dispute between their country and Botswana.
Commenting on reports that the Namibian Parliament has dispatched a committee along the border between the two countries on fact finding mission, the group commended“the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, De-fence and Security that will engage community members living along the Namibia Botswana Border in conducting public hearings into acts of aggression and brutality by Botswana Defence (BDF) Force against innocent and unarmed Namibians.”