In a bid to assert citizen control and instil corporate governance, Kitso Mokaila the Minister for Transport and Communications has dissolved all but two board members of the Civil Aviation Authority Botswana (CAAB).
The former board was allegedly imposed on the former minister, Tshenolo Mabeo and was seen in some quarters as not only some form of localisation of the board, but equally regarded inexperienced and lacking professional and robust control. Botswana Guardian has reliably learnt that for some time, there was serious friction between the board and the management of the national airline Air Botswana. It is alleged that Air Botswana’s contention was that they believed the CAAB Board was composed of junior and inexperienced pilots charged with the responsibility to supervise the regulation of the air space in the country.Besides, it is argued that CAAB Board failed to turn around the authority and make it profitable despite having the resources; instead they are over dependent on government to finance them.The two members who remained are former Presidential pilot, Themba Johnson and Assad Petkar whose term expires early next year, but will be renewed.
Mokaila confirmed the board dissolution and appointment of new members, but could not be drawn to field questions. “Yes it is true that I have appointed a new board. It is about good corporate governance and for CAAB to play its role as a regulator and provide commercial services at our airports as well as giving Batswana opportunities. I must emphasise that what I am bringing to the board is financial management capabilities and bringing in solid aviation experience and bringing in citizens . I will continue to review as we go forward,” he said.
Amongst the examples given by the aviation experts is that their existence was as good as one baking and eating their own cake as some of the board members were allegedly conflicted by virtue of being current commercial pilots at the same time being duty bound to regulate themselves.
Some of the board members who have been removed due to alleged conflict are former board chairman, Mark Samson, an experienced Dornier aircraft pilot for Botswana Defence Force (BDF) who used to fly the former president and or government dignitaries. Aviation experts are disadvantaged by the fact that military, law enforcement units and government aircraft are not regulated by CAAB in accordance with the international aviation rules and regulations.
Others are Les Trotter who flies for the Department of Wildlife and National Parks. He too has a commercial license and has worked for a private local flying company, Kalahari Air Services owned by amongst others, motor magnate Satar Dada. The last of the three is Anthony Rees, who resigned before the board was dissolved as he allegedly did not agree with ministerial authorities on numerous issues. It said at some stage he was found to be conflicted during the awarding of a tender that one company had shown interest in.
Mokaila has appointed five new members thereby increasing board membership to seven. The new members include Sakhile Rosemary Reiling a pilot and an aviation expert based in South Afruica. Reiling recently visited Botswana and France to renew her pilot license for Botswana in order to provide training service for ATR Industries international.
Others are Aviation- electronic communication engineer, Kemoitse Jonathan Mosupugwa and former Director of Civil Aviation, Deputy Permanent Secretary in the ministry of Transport and Communications, Garekwe Rabothalenyana Mojaphoko a metallurgical engineer, accountant Mpho Judith Dimbungu who holds Masters of Business Administration and Attorney, Basimane Bogopa.
The term for the new members is three years except for Mojaphoko whose term is tied to the contract as Deputy Permanent Secretary. The new board held its first meeting this week Wednesday to map the way forward and were officially introduced to staff and stakeholders.