BY RICHARD MOLEOFE
The air show is a good thing for the country especially Rasesa community and that of the surrounding villages together with Gaborone metropolis. The unemployment in this country is hitting an ordinary Motswana very hard. Unfortunately, Matsieng air show, not surprisingly of course, is run by Ian Khama’s network of friends and acquaintances, with some foreign nationals to the extent that they even do menial jobs like gatekeeping and selling hotdogs, I guess as a good gesture of empowering Batswana and eradicating poverty among them, they could be heavily involved. Very depressing if you are an indigenous and truly patriotic Motswana, the same patriotism that the former president purported to know it better that everybody. It has become a norm in Botswana for such events as this for Batswana come like servants to their Masters’ table to pick whatever pieces they can get as they fall from the table. This is the legacy as left by Ian Khama who believes in giving tangible stuff to his white friends and foreign nationals and thereafter cry foul when his successor puts things in their rightful perspective.
How do you have an event of such magnitude, for a country like Botswana, run by foreigners with a few locals who have the guts to threaten to take out their wealth from the same country that they claim to be a part of its citizenry? An air show taking place in the backyard of locals, who are nothing less than beggars that are sustained by the so-called poverty eradication programs (nyeletso lehuma) which is only impoverishing not only physically or materially but also in mind and spirit.
The Government must take charge of such events to ensure that they benefit all Batswana (black, white or yellow) equally. The right safety measures must be put in place for the participants and spectators. Those who believe that the current set up must be the order of the day should eat their hearts out.
For an air show to be spectacular, flight safety measures must first be put in place so that in the event of an eventuality, damages are reduced to a bare minimum. Accident investigators from CAAB, Botswana Defence Force and others must be part of this so that coordinated efforts are rolled out as preventative measures. Thank God that the air show has been going on for this long with participants in the vicinity of the machines without any incident. The machines are crowded in a small place, how they were parked there, only goodness knows, the engines are run in these very limited spaces without the correct fire drills i.e. fire extinguishers, the marshalling is not done or if at all done, the space is again limited. If fires were to break out, the commotion that would ensue would be unimaginable.
Are we supposed to look away just because its Batswana whose lives are risked for the sole purpose of satisfying the needs of Ian and his cronies. Just for the record, this year, they flew him in from his ill-fated Serowe meeting where he was consulting of if you please, misleading the unfortunate Bangwato.
How involved is Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana(CAAB) in this event and what measures have they dictated to the aviators to follow? The manoeuvres flown during the event, are they sanctioned by CAAB or the important thing is just to do as they please despite the aviation authority’s standing operating procedures. The dare devil manoeuvres at this air show are very dangerous, one is better off watching from A1.
There is absolutely no question about the fact that that is a disaster waiting to happen.
All the relevant stakeholders must take part in this event just like Khawa, have flight safety rules observed to the letter. With all stakeholders involved in the running of the event, I am sure this would come out with measures that would keep the event safe for all. There are toys that one can play with just like Saddam Hussein used to play with guns out of ignorance, he wore military uniform and understood nothing about the military, aircraft are not for playing with but are deadly machines if not handled with due care. When it comes to flying them in populated or built up areas, no messing about. This is the reason why the standards are set high, the rules are in place even for particular systems, why shouldn’t we have safety measures in place for such events? Unbelievably unbelievable!