Sunday, March 7, 2021

Ailing Air Botswana’s top post delocalised yet again

The board of directors of Air Botswana have sidelined a local, Joe Motse, when selecting the new general manager of the national airline.

Before his temporary ascendancy to the top post of the airline, his rank was commercial director. His previous employers were Botswana Tourism Organization, Cresta and Debswana.

Fresh information from the airline indicates that a South African, Ben Dahwa, who was born in Zimbabwe, has since started working as the permanent general manager of the national carrier.
Dahwa reported for duty at the beginning of this month and is expected to explore avenues of growth for the national airline.

The national airline’s mystery of operating without a permanent General Manager continued late last year when it lost its acting general manager, Mphi Tlhomelang who died in June after being appointed to the top post on an acting basis.

Tlhomelang, formerly AB’s Finance Manager, replaced Sakhile Reiling who quit the top post in March of the same year following her relocation to South Africa.

The national carrier has never been stable since the departure of Joshua Galeforolwe as all the past substantive General Managers appointed jumped ship before the end of their contracts.
Upon the departure of Galeforolwe, the then Finance Manager, Cornwell Muleya, a Zambian national, was appointed on an acting basis. This was shortly before the appointment of Willie Mokgatle who later resigned and joined Shell Oil International.

Other subsequent appointees include that of Beatrice Selotlegeng, who was also given the post on an acting basis before she paved the way for Lance Brogden.

It was after Brogden left Air Botswana that the then Finance Manager, Mphi Tlhomelang and Maemo Bantsi (Head of Human Resources) were appointed (on acting capacities).

The Air Botswana Board was later to appoint a British national, Mike Higgins, Higgins who surprisingly tendered his resignation within three months of his appointment. He was replaced by Reiling.

But just after less than two years at helm, Reiling, also the first female head of the airline in 2011, joined the extensive list of those who had left the ailing national carrier by resigning in March last year.

Reiling’s move was seen as a major blow to Air Botswana since upon her arrival at Air Botswana, she had been driving a major strategic plan of recovery for the struggling national airline.

It was under her leadership that Air Botswana was readmitted into the International Air Transport Association (IATA) as a full member after finally passing the exacting IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) audit. Air Botswana had been failing the audit since 2007.

The Zimbabwe-born pilot also helped Air Botswana’s financial recovery, reducing its net losses which had accumulated over many years.

With Air Botswana suffering a spate of bad publicity, Reiling was then head-hunted by IATA to take up a very senior position in Johannesburg, South Africa. She ultimately left the airline in March last year.

AB, which has been plagued by poor service over the past few years, is facing stiff competition from other airliners that operate and seek to operate in the country.

Meanwhile Motse said in a brief interview on Friday that the contract of the foreign consultants who camped at Air Botswana since last year will end in July this year.

“They were hired to do a specific job, the will depart once they are done. Their contract was only six months,” Motse said.

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