Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Militarization of civil service top posts feared in CAA row

Transport and Communications minister Frank Ramsden’s knickers were in a twist this week when quizzed on his controversial decision to throw out a name proposed for Civil Aviation Authority CEO by the board of directors.

With President Lt Gen Ian Khama reported to have mentioned a former Botswana Defence Force boss as a possible candidate, the minister’s decision is feared to be part of an emerging trend to staff strategic civil service posts with former army officers.

Board chairperson, Tsetsele Fantan, confirmed in an interview with the SundayStandard that the minister has rejected a name that was suggested by the board of directors. The position fell vacant after Meshesha Belayneh left the organization last year.

The decision by Ramsden to toss away the board’s candidate has taken the fight back to the board which was, prior to the recommendation, divided between former Deputy Permanent Secretary, Louis Malikongwa, and the Authority’s former board chairman, Gobusamang Keebine.

It is understood that at some point disagreement over the ideal candidate by the board led the board chair to take the issue to President Ian Khama for arbitration.

The President, however, is understood to have threatened to rope former army boss, Major General Jefferson Tlhokwane, to take up the job if the Board cannot make a decision. Incidentally, Thokwane is also a Board member of Civil Aviation Authority.

However Fantan has denied the allegations and states that Khama has no say in the appointment of a CEO for the Civil Aviation Authority.

“This issue has never been taken to the President and I have never talked to the President about this issue; the appointment is done by the minister,” she stated. She said that to her knowledge the board has never been divided.

“The board had made a recommendation to the minister, which the minister has been reluctant to accept; the board has never disagreed,” said Fantan.

She said that following Ramsden’s decision to reject their choice, the board has instructed its human resource committee to start the recruitment process all over again.
Minister Ramsden refused to shed light on the issue and scoffed off efforts by this publication when contacted for comment.

“Go get a comment from whoever told you about this issue,” he said. “The person who leaked that information to you knows why I rejected him, he is the better authority on this issue.”

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