It is up to Agnes Khunwane to take or refuse an offer to become the next general manager of the national airline ÔÇô Air Botswana.
Whilst he admitted to have not delivered the offer letter yet, the Minister of Transport and Communications Kitso Mokaila has confirmed that an offer will be made to Khunwane for her to take over as the new chief executive at the embattled national airline.
Khunwane has been acting as the Air Botswana GM since the controversial departure of the immediate past leader – Tozivazvipi Dahwa in November 2015.
Dahwa was appointed to the top post in 2014, after the then AB board sidelined a local, Joe Motse who had been serving as acting General Manager. Motse later left Air Botswana.
Until this week, the AB GM position has been vacant for a period of almost three years.
It is not the first time for Air Botswana to operate without a substantive General Manager. In 2013, the national airliner was left rudderless after the death of then acting General Manager, Mphi Tlhomelang. Tlhomelang, formerly AB’s Finance Manager had replaced Sakhile Reiling who quit the top post in March 2013 and relocated to South Africa.
The national carrier has never been stable since the departure of Joshua Galeforolwe, as all the subsequent General Managers jumped ship before their contracts elapsed. Upon the departure of Galeforolwe, then Finance Manager, Zambian national Cornwell Muleya 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 Beatrice Selotlegeng, who also served in an acting capacity before paving the way for Lance Brogden. Former Air Botswana Head of Human Resources Maemo Bantsi has also served as acting General Manager.
The Air Botswana Board later appointed British national, Mike Higgins to the top post. He tendered his resignation within three months of his appointment. He was replaced by Reiling, who left after less than two years at helm.
Reiling’s departure was seen as a major blow for Air Botswana as she had been driving the struggling airliner’s major strategic plan of recovery. 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). Air Botswana had been failing the audit since 2007.
Meanwhile Khunwane previously served as Air Botswana’s Finance Director and was at some point the chairperson of the Finance and Audit Committee of the Civil Aviation Authority Botswana (CAAB) board of directors from April 2011 to 2015.
“It is a very important decision of getting the right people for the job. She has fully applied herself on the ground,” said Mokaila.
Mokaila said amongst the targets that would be set for Khunwane is to establish new subsidiaries for Air Botswana as way of having the airline have alternative streams of revenue and not do depend on government subventions.
Amongst its wings, AB is expected to get a cargo business, maintenance of aircrafts, as well as ground handling business. Mokaila said the new subsidiaries are expected to generate income of Air Botswana.
The appointment of Khunwane follows a massive departure of AB pilots who quit the company for greener pastures.