Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Cabinet divided over sale of Air Botswana

Investigations raised by The Sunday Standard indicate that cabinet is deeply divided over recommendations by the Ministry of Works and Transport to sell Air Botswana to SA Airlink.
Indications are that SA Airlink is fast losing favour with many influential voices inside cabinet.

There are some ministers who are outright against the sale of Air Botswana.

This comes in the wake of a declaration by British Airways/Comair axis that they would be interested in buying a stake in the national carrier after all.
At a Wednesday meeting, cabinet sent back Minister of Works and Transport, Lesego Motsumi, to go and get more technical and background information about SA Airlink.

The Sunday Standard can confirm that even before Motsumi was turned back, some cabinet ministers had indicated that they were against selling Air Botswana to a small and little known operation like Airlink.

Another section of cabinet said, while Air Botswana is not making money, it had to be looked from a perspective that not only is it a national asset but is actually feeding other key national commercial interests like tourism, which are making a huge contribution to the economy.

Motsumi’s spokesperson, Sam Mbaiwa, confirmed to Sunday Standard that indeed his principal has been instructed to go and get more information on SA Airlink.
“As of now no decision has been made. Cabinet is still awaiting more information. I wouldn’t say what exactly it is they have demanded but they were not happy with some aspects of presentation made to them,” said Mbaiwa.
The plan to sell Air Botswana to SA Airlink started encountering turbulence when Sunday Standard revealed that SA Airlink Chief Executive, Roger Foster, co-authored the deal’s blue print with the government economic consultant Nico Czypionka behind the cabinet’s back.
Since then a lot of aspersions have been cast on the propriety of the whole negotiations with the South African airliner.

More problems also came to head after parliament passed a motion calling for the suspension of the negotiations.
The situation was not helped by revelations that, elsewhere, SA Airlink was going through financial troubles.
“I can tell you that cabinet has demanded clarification of some points. It is only then that a decision could be made,” said Mbaiwa.

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