The Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies and State Enterprises has accused state-owned Air Botswana of gross maladministration after it failed to submit its audited financial statements for two consecutive years.
Chaired by the MP for Nkange, Dr Nevah Tshabang, the committee wanted the struggling national carrier to account for numerous vacant positions in top level management, why it has been running at a loss for 20 years, why the government should continue funding it, and if a turnaround strategy implemented has borne any fruitful results.
“There are posts in the executive management which are either vacant or have been acted in for too long, the Chief Executive Officer left in December 2020, the Head of Customer and Ground Services’ contract ended in March 2021 while the Head of Flight Operations has been in acting capacity for another financial year now,” Tshabang said.
Responding to these concerns, the Chairman of the Air Botswana Board, Tebogo Masire, said no African airline has made a profit over the last 24 years because aviation is a loss making industry. Masire added that while no profits were made, significant progress has been under a turnaround strategy for 2016-2020. “Losses dropped from P165 million to P86 million in two years,” he said.
Masire, who was personally accused by the committee of failing in his supervisory role, argued that Air Botswana deserves continued government support for this reason and because the country’s flag carrier is at a point where it could break even or its losses become more acceptable.
He admitted that the airline faces serious financial challenges, saying most employees are on half salaries while some have been forced into unpaid leave as a part of austerity measures adopted by the board and management. “It is no surprise that most have decided to jump ship,” Masire told the committee. He added that the government and financial institutions were unwilling to come on board and invest in Air Botswana.