Dr Matsheka blames BTO ‘mess’ on Tshekedi

  • Says Tshekedi killed consultation
  • Backs Mokaila to save tourism industry

LETLHOGILE MPUANG

Outgoing chairman of the Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana (HATAB) Dr Thapelo Matsheka has fingered former Minister of Tourism, Environment and Wildlife Management Tshekedi Khama for playing a part in some of the problems faced by the country’s tourism industry.

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Matsheka, who served as HATAB chairman since 2014, officially announced at the 35th HATAB Conference held in Kasane last week that he was resigning from his role to pursue his political ambition.

“What I found lacking was the level of consultation, particularly between the association and various ministries. We then decided to have a catalog of issues in one document and took it to government, including the HLCC. However, we were advised to take it to the relevant ministries and I am happy that during my term as chairman we were able to clear all these issues,” he made these remarks in an interview with The Botswana Gazette.

“We have a way of doing things in this country and it requires all of us to consult and speak to each other before we talk to the world, even in this era of social media. Even in our differences as a country, we have a way of working together in this country. There were also other issues outside the catalog that were important that should be addressed. One of the things that we struggled with was to get our minister and the ministry to sit down with them and discuss these issues. There had been Pitsos (consultations) before and what we saw then and in the recent past was that the ministry was taking unilateral decisions. We saw the tourism development levy, we saw the BTO board not being fully constituted, we saw BTO competing with the private sector,” Matsheka said.

He added that Tshekedi was silent on the concerns of the private sector regarding the role of the BTO. He said BTO had a clear role of facilitating businesses for the private sector as stipulated in the country’s first National Development Plan.

“BTO was never supposed to be doing events as a parastatal, they are to be done by the private sector. There is no way that the private sector can compete with government. BTO was supposed to facilitate private sector activities not to compete and it is a very clear policy that was adopted in 1966 when we did our first National Development Plan. We did take these issues to the former minister and I am not too sure if it was a difference in philosophical approach or maybe a lack of convergence on thoughts. We also took these issues to former President Khama but there was no action that was taken. We have however seen some change since the change of ministers, Rre Mokaila coming on board to say he agrees and would like things to be done in the right way.”

He concluded that the new minister in charge of tourism, Kitso Mokaila has acknowledged their concerns and has promised to find possible remedies to their worries.

“I am happy with Mokaila (Kitso) coming back and President Masisi saying we need to promote the private sector, we need to make sure that we create jobs. We are glad that the tourism levy has been reversed and also that the BTO has a CEO and the board has been fully constituted. We are also happy that Mokaila has assured us he will bring back the Tourism Pitso where we will discuss issues.”