- 98% of its 750 staff members are Batswana
- In 2012 all their lodges were 100% expatriate managed
- Current group MD started as a waiter
Ten years since Chobe Holdings, a local tourism group started the localisation programme, a remarkable achievement has been realised with an overall 98% of its staff being Batswana. This is as some of its subsidiaries have reached a 100% localisation score.
The group’s Managing Director, Lempheditse ‘MC’ Odumetse, who is an example of the company’s human development and empowerment drive has said when the localisation programme started in 2012, all the lodges were 100% expatriates managed.
This was to change as, following the deliberate move to localise management positions and empower staff through training, young Batswana were placed under these expatriates as trainee managers.
These, were to later take over as substantive managers, and 10 years down the lane, Odumetse said the achievement is quite remarkable, an indication that the programme has been effective. Odumetse further indicated that the 98% localisation rate is representative of all the group’s 750 employees.
A peep into the different subsidiaries of the group, most are comfortably sitting at 100 % all Batswana staff, and are efficiently operating. Odumetse cited that North West Air, an aircraft engineering operation which fixes air planes is an all Batswana operation.
The same applies to Safari Air, the group’s air charter which also sits at 100% all Batswana pilots. Safari is air one of the air charters that transport tourists and camp staff in and out of the Delta. These used to be an operation that employed most expatriates’ pilots.
Furthermore, Odumetse noted that Sedia Hotel is 100% localised while Chobe Game Lodge which is another hospitality facility of the group is currently at 98%.
Besides this remarkable localisation achievement, the group, through its different subsidiaries continues to drive robust programmes to develop and empower their staff. The initiative has seen staff progressing from humble positions to commanding positions of leadership.
Odumetse, the current group MD, started as a waiter with Desert and Delta Safaris and moved up the ladder through training under the deliberate staff development programme to becoming a manager in the different camps. The localisation programme found the likes of Odumetse and other current Batswana staff members ready to take on leadership positions of leadership at group level.
Another beneficiary of this benevolent initiative is Ernest Chaba, the current assistant General Manager who started with Desert and Delta Safaris (DDS) in 2007 as a grounds man based at Savute. He then rose through the ranks after joining the training program and the rest is history.
The Ngami Times this past weekend visited two of Desert and Delta Safaris Camps in Moremi Game Reserve to speak to staff and get first-hand information about localisation and staff development initiative. Also on the menu of this visit was to establish the issue of staff general welfare.
Here we met with likes of Sefela ‘Harry’ Mangwegape who started with DDS in 2010 as a guide at Savute, and through refresher training he managed to move between different camps. ‘Harry’ is proud of the opportunities available for further training in various areas that affects his work.
We also interviewed Christinah Sakaeva who started working for DDS in 2008 on a temporary basis, and became a laundry lady in 2009 and today is a Chef at Xakanaxa Camp.
We also heard the success story of Opelo Seditse who started with DDS in 2005 as a housekeeper, and went on to become a waitress and today she is holding the position of a Chef at Camp Moremi. Seditse also revealed that their social welfare is of great importance to their employer and that she cannot even begin to imagine leaving the company.
Guide Ngande ‘Babá’ Shimwe who joined the company in 2009/10 shared his experiences with the transformation when the company’s localisation programme took full effect. He witnessed as camp management positions were localised, and currently working in an environment where Batswana manage the same.
One of the longest serving guides Goitseone ‘Gwist’ Seditse has been with DDS for the past 20 years, having started working in the scullery at Camp Okavango and Savute Safari Lodge, before sitting for his professional guiding examinations with Botswana Wildlife Training Institute (BWTI), and subsequently becoming a guide.
We also interacted with young pilot Kgotlaetsile Tese who works for Safari Air, who thanked the company for giving him the opportunity to work after spending years unemployed. He also appreciated a whole work environment where colleagues in office and at camp are fellow Batswana.
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