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The government enclave was this week abuzz with fresh information indicating that former Botswana Defence Force (BDF) Commander, General Tebogo Carter Masire has been appointed to lead Air Botswana as board chairman, replacing Nigel Dixon-Warren.
The embattled national airliner has been sailing without a rudder since late last year after the Minster responsible for Transport; Tshenolo Mabeo sacked General Manager Ben Dahwa together with his entire board of directors, following allegations of corruption pertaining to multi million Pula procurement deals. The cash strapped airliner has also been receiving substantial bailout funds from government, which however failed to save it from sinking further into financial doldrums and operational inefficiency. Sunday Standard is informed that Mabeo has appointed Gen. Masire as chairman of the Air Botswana board, while the appointment of targeted individuals to fill other positions within the board is also almost complete.
“My Ministry has been and is working closely with the management of Air Botswana and other stakeholders to identify the right people,” said Mabeo in an interview.
He however added could not reveal a definite time frame within which they would have appointed all the board members.
“It’s very important for us to identify the right people for the job. At this time I am not at liberty to divulge their names, but I assure you it will not be long before we announce the new board”
Mabeo further revealed that Air Botswana is currently led by Acting General Manager, Agnes Khunwana supported by the executive committee. Further, decisions that would ordinarily need board approval are approved by Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Transport and Communications Neil Fitt, who is also a previous board member.
“Prior to its dissolution, the board had approved a five-year business plan for 2015-2020 which the airline is currently pursuing,” Mabeo stated.
In the current setup, the mandate of the airline is executed through the executive committee, while board decisions are executed at PS level, which has helped to maintain stability in the interim. Mabeo said Air Botswana continues to sustain a satisfactory level of operations and on-time performance.
“We are currently working on the winter timetable which will be launched in March,” said Mabeo.
Gen. Masire is a graduate of the US Airforce Command and Staff College and the Naval Postgraduate School. He is an International Honour Roll Inductee of the US Air University. He holds a Diploma and Bsc from Troy State University and an MBA from University of Southern Queensland, Australia. He retired from the military on 31st July 2012 after serving for five years as Commander of the BDF. Before joining the BDF as an Officer Cadet at its inception in 1977, Gen. Masire worked at the Department of Civil Aviation as an Air Traffic Controller. He has over 4, 000 flying hours on fixed wing and helicopters and is one of the founding members of the SADC Standing Aviation Committee; and a founding board member of the Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana (CAAB).