Efforts to have more Batswana occupy managerial positions in the tourism sector especially in the Okavango Delta seem to be moving at a snail’s pace.
Currently top positions in tourist establishments in the delta are held by foreigners.
For quite some time now a good number of Batswana have been placed on understudy programs with foreigners holding substantive positions in management.
As if that is not enough, those who successfully complete their understudy programs never reach General Manager positions.
Bojanala ward councilor Luke Motlaleselelo expressed concern recently over recruitment of management staff at some tourism establishments saying procedures are never followed when promoting locals to top positions.
He said that when work permits are issued to foreigners, one of the requirements is that they should submit at least one or more than one staff member who would later benefit from the special skills that the foreigner might possess through the understudy program.
The expectation is that during the expiry of the permits, positions that were held by foreigners would be taken over by locals, which is however never the case.
Motlaleselelo further said that currently there are Batswana who after more than 15 years have been understudying foreigners as assistant managers and have still not progressed to senior managerial positions.
He said because there is no proper monitoring of this understudy initiative some foreigners are given permits with all requirements stipulated in their permits only to be employed as mechanics when they start work.
“I doubt the credibility of the labour office since they rarely do inspections to establish what could be the reason for all this. The issue becomes even tricky because most of these lodges are located on areas where they are inaccessible,” said the councilor.
Therefore, he said, for labour officials to reach the lodges in the delta, they have to be transported by the same tour operators and lodge owners by air mostly because the department does not have suitable mode of transport to reach the area on their own even when they so wish.
An official from the Department of Labour said to the best of their knowledge most of the local managers have and still benefit from the training and localization program implemented by tour operators.
He also said although they were not conducting regular inspections, they do site visits to check if operators still comply as well as to ensure that tour operators are in a position to justify why the understudy cannot take over. This they always do whenever there is need for a renewal of work permits for foreigners.
Motlaleselelo also did not have kind words for the Parliamentary Labour Committee which he accused of failing to pay visits to the tourism establishments in the delta to address the matter and other related issues which are of concern to people working in the delta.