Botswana National Sport Council (BNSC) is returning all stadiums under and its care and management back to Government as it is failing to maintain the facilities.
Botswana Basketball Association (BBA) President, Boineelo Hardy revealed on Wednesday at the University of Botswana (UB) when participating in a panel discussion to discuss the proposed ten new Community Mini Stadia that Government plans to construct in 10 villages around the country to promote community recreation and sport development. This was said in the presence of BNSC Board Member, Tsoseletso Magang who was also a panelist interrogating the need for the extra 10 sport facilities. BBA is an affiliate of the BNSC.
Hardy was questioning the wisdom to construct extra stadiums when Government is already failing to maintain the existing facilities to a point where the Sport Commission has now resolved to relinquish management responsibilities for the stadiums. She argued that “until Government realizes and acknowledges that facility management is a profession on its own, management of sport facilities in the country will remain a challenge.”
She advised that Government should consider hiring professionals to manage the facilities so that they can remain in good condition and be self-sustaining financially. She observed that Government is spending a lot of money training top athletes like Nijel Amos in high performance facilities abroad to match and cater for the need and the level of professionalism that the athletes are at. She said Government should upgrade their existing facilities into high performance centres and put in charge people with the necessary skills to manage the facilities.
Tsoseletso Magang noted that the BNSC is having a challenge in managing the facilities because it is expensive, explaining that Government’s subvention has never been enough. She said because of the high cost of maintenance, the Commission had to start the financial year with a huge deficit. This is generally believed to be the reason why the Commission is overcharging its affiliates for utilizing the facilities, the price tag that many sporting codes including football have failed to pay resulting in underutilization of the facilities.
The BNSC Board member has however explained that while the high cost for using the facilities contributes to less utilisation of the stadiums, the problem is largely compounded by the poor quality and below par standards of these facilities. Former Chief Executive Officer at the BNSC, Kitso Kemoeng reiterated that the cost of maintaining the facilities is high and therefore users of the facilities will always be charged some fee no matter who runs the stadiums. “Government should always take care of the maintenance cost of the stadium no matter who manages them,” he said.
The Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development however holds a different view. The Director of Sport in the ministry, Moreetsi Bogosi blames BNSC for the failure to properly manage sport facilities. Responding of the deliberations at the panel discussion, Bogosi said the Sport Commission have failed Botswana sport as they have failed to manage the facilities despite having made promises to turn around the stadiums into financially self-sustaining facilities through their Business Development Manager.
BNSC Affiliates at logger heads
Meanwhile, both BNSC and Botswana Basketball Association have acceded that there is bad blood between the Commission’s affiliates, a reality that negatively affect the growth of the sport fraternity in Botswana. The wrangling among sport federations was revealed by Media Personality and News Editor, Kealeboga Dihutso who noted that sport in Botswana has itself to blame for lack of development as they cannot sit at table and unreservedly agree on one firm case that would advance sport because of fighting amongst each other.
Dihutso said sport federations need to iron out their differences so that they can be able to successfully lobby and make their collective voice heard. This was supported by Kemoeng who also acknowledged the existence of sour relations amongst and within sport associations which he said hampers progress. Crudely putting it, he advised to BNSC and affiliates to deal with their “hatred” for each other and put sport first. He said that failure to meet common ground by sport administrators impacts negatively on building a strong case for sport development.
Amid the confusion surrounding the date of the Botswana Football Association (BFA) elections, the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare, met with three presidential candidates on Thursday morning to discuss a plethora of problems bedevilling the domestic game.
The candidates are Maclean Letshwiti, the current President, Tebogo Sebego, the firm challenger of the BFA throne, together with Ookeditse Malesu who enters the race for the first time in his sporting career. There were other two unnamed officials who are said to be representatives from the sport ministry.
The Sport minister is said to have adopted a hard-nosed approach to register his disappointment and worry that the uncertainty of the upcoming elections have injured the administration of the local game.
Highly placed sources at the Sport ministry say that the minister’s ‘no gloves barred’ approach comes at the behest of the BFA’s constant negative headlines regarding their leadership style as of going into the elections.
It is said that Rakgare was also worried that the current administration is keeping the other two camps in the dark regarding the planning and processes bordering on election issues. This, he said has led to unnecessary speculations and back biting that is not needed to lift the game at a time when it is on its knees.
He was to rattle a few feathers at one incident when he called all the three leaders of the game to put their houses in order. As if that was not enough, the minister called on the three lobby groups to desist from serving personal interests but put focus on developing the game.
Interestingly, sources point out that the minister was livid but urged both Letshwiti and Sebego groups to refrain from tarnishing the good image of the ministry. This, he said in response to wide ranging allegations that he is taking sides as campaigns are ongoing.
The Sebego group accuses him of de campaigning Sebego and having a soft spot for Team Letshwiti while the same Letshwiti group is saying the same thing about the minister as having taking curious interest in Sebego camp.
The minister is alleged to have told the leaders that if they do not change their leadership style of protecting those looting public funds, his ministry would intervene even if it means attracting the wrath of FIFA, which is known for its notorious sanctions when countries do not toe the line. He urges BFA to be accountable at all the times they will cut the annual subventions that goes to them, sources claim.
This is not for the first time that the BFA was lectured on good governance. At one incident in 2015, former Minster of Sport Thapelo Olopeng dressed down the then Tebogo Sebego leadership regarding good governance.
BFA was at the time closely monitored by the ministry. Instead of the usual transactions that normally go through BFA, national team players received their allowances straight from government in the form of cheques. To demonstrate that government has taken a firm stand against BFA, players’ allowances were no longer routed through the association.
Nobody from the said meeting will address this publication enquiry all indicating that the consultation is never meant for public consumption.
If everything goes according to plan, the Botswana Football Association (BFA) will hold its annual general assembly next month through a virtual conference.
There has been much uncertainty as to how and when the congress will be held seeing as how COVID-19 protocols remain stringent on gatherings.
Sources speaking with this publication say the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the association has agreed to hold the congress within COVID-19 zones, consequently dispelling all the lingering doubts surrounding the life and soul of the assembly.
As it stands, there are nine COVID -19 zones in Botswana. The association is therefore contemplating to rely within four zones where live streaming will take centre stage for the first time in the history of BFA elections.
The congress was first billed for August 8th but was postponed to August 22nd. However, the second date could not see the light of the day as the country recorded a second rise of coronavirus cases that promptly led to greater Gaborone going into yet another lockdown.
The association has been procrastinating over the virtual congress idea with the election agenda remaining a sticky issue. Many advices came flooding that the association is free to make any decision about the congress but should be very careful not to compromise the integrity of the vote.
Sources indicate to this paper that the association is likely to rely on four COVID-19 zones, namely Gaborone, Francistown, Jwaneng and Palapye. The need to plant the meeting on virtual technologies hinges on the fact that the COVID -19 health protocols do not permit people to cross zones to hold meetings.
Information gleaned from various sources is that the association is looking to rely on four zones primarily because of the limited number of personnel under the electoral board. There are five members consisting of this committee and by the look of things; the association will not be allowed to outsource more election overseers at the eleventh hour. Sources argue that the whole cautious exercise is meant to avoid complaints that may arise after elections are held.
The virtual meeting comes after many failed attempts by the association to convince the Kereng Masupu led Task Force to give out a special dispensation. On many occasions, the Task Force refused to allow for the assembly to go on saying “football is not a priority.”
The assembly is expected to be held next month but the exact date still remains a subject of speculation. In the end, Tebogo Sebego will stand again for the second time to unseat Maclean Letshwiti while Ookeditse Malesu is standing for the first time to try and wrestle for BFA power.
The Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare, is eager to lead crunch talks that will consequently see Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) and Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) becoming one authoritative sport entity.
The appointment of one Tuelo Serufho to the plum position of BNSC Chief Executive Officer two week ago has further catalysed the intention to merge the sports bodies to avoid the long standing complaints of duplication of roles by the two.
Serufho was replacing Falcom Sedimo whose contract was not renewed.Serufho, ironically is the longest serving CEO of BNOC and also a board member of BNSC.“One of our aims is to form a robust sport body to centralize and improve decision making processes and maybe the time to resuscitate BNSC/BNOC merger is now,” Rakgare briefly shared.
The impending move is highly meant to improve effective functioning, governance and performance of sports in the country both locally and globally.Should this see the light of day, Botswana would have done itself a favour and it would start sending a handful of athletes to international competitions.
The amalgamation of BNSC/BNOC talks have been in the pipelines but discussions were aborted two years ago without clear reasons. The creation of this all-encompassing sport institution is overdue according to the minister.
“It is in fact our mandate to make sure this happens, it is overdue and by next year we hope to have finalised our position paper,” Rakgare added.The creation of the looming body is borne out of lessons learnt from various sports governance models around the world.
In South Africa, the sports ministry facilitated discussions to merge National Olympic Committee of South Africa (NOCSA) and the South African Sports Commission. Their authoritative sports body is now called South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC).
With the South African model well in place, Botswana is urged to bench mark and create a sport body as a civic society-based organisation as required by the statutes of international sports bodies.The name of the local sport body is mooted and the minister refused to give a hint. But he is optimistic that the body will be the vanguard organization of sport in the country.
He emphasized that the sports organisation should be a purposeful guardian for governance and management of sports and be the required defining figure of the role of sports in Botswana’s communities.Talks to revamp and rebuild these sports bodies come at a time when BNSC is restructuring.
When Sedimo was still at the helm, he wanted to phase out some positions which he felt were unnecessary.BNSC receive close to 53 million Pula as grants from the government through the Ministry of Youth, Sports development and Culture empowerment while BNOC takes a figure a closer to that.