Aviation-tourism event cost Govt P5 million a year
In what seems to be part of an ongoing “operation clean up Botswana Tourism Organization” (BTO), the Minister of Environment, Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism, Kitso Mokaila, has canceled the Race for Rhinos an aviation tourism event that was marketed as a campaign to raise awareness on the plight of Rhinos.
The fundraising event, which was hosted annually in Makgadikgadi pans cost government over P5 million in sponsorship every year, Voice Entertainment can confirm.
It would have been in its fifth edition this year.
Voice Entertainment can further confirm that the minister cancelled the event after a BTO employee who was a director at Tlhokomela Botswana Endangered Wildlife trust and a board member of Race for Rhinos failed to sufficiently account for the proceeds of the event.
The conflicted employee also failed to explain to the Minister why Tlhokomela trust was housed under BTO, in essence using Government premises and utilities without due process, The Voice has been reliably informed.
“The event was said to be a fundraiser, but the boss (name known to this publication) failed to tell the minister how much was raised and where the funds went?” said a high-ranking source.
The main event organiser, Chris Briers in an emotional interview lashed out at the Minister for cancellation of the event, saying, “It was sinister move on his part.”
“The change of ministers I have been told has affected the event. We have been dealing with Jillian Blackbeared at the BTO but now she is nowhere to be found,” Briers said.
Asked further about the event Briers said, “Normally we start planning in November and entries for participants are accepted in January. But up to now we have not received any word from BTO who is our major sponsor so we decided to cancel the event,”
The disappointed South African further expressed his disappointed as he expected Government to once again sponsor the event as it marked a world record in aviation last year.
He however refused to reveal how much this year’s event would have cost BTO.
Speaking on behalf of BTO, Keitumetse Setlang in a brief interview confirmed that the event would no longer be hosted by BTO this year going forward.
Setlang said, “BTO has not budget. We will be handing over the event to the private sector so they will be handling the event moving forward.”
Meanwhile Minister Mokaila confirmed the cancellation of the event, but would not go into detail.
“I set out to evaluate everything that we do and its contribution to Batswana. The event unfortunately for now does not speak to where we want to go as a Ministry. It’s more of issues of Governance, but I will explain more at a press briefing soon.”
Efforts to reach Tlhokomela trust were futile at the time of going to press.
According to the Tlhokomela Endangered Wildlife Botswana website the boards of directors are Jillian Blackbeard, Michelle Goushe, Mike Chase, Tshekedi Khama II, and Map Ives as the Vice Chairman and Balisi Bonyongo as the Chairman.