BNSC books on red
Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) has now swallowed a bitter pill and conceded it can no longer financially support under its wing as it is itself battling a financial crisis. The commission made this admission recently through a letter which also pleaded with the sporting codes to be patient until the beginning of April.
In the letter sent to all the sporting codes, the sports commission said the sporting codes should halt all funds requisition as it too was operating under red tape and was awaiting government to credit the funds when the new financial year begins in April. According to sources, the BNSC has even requested a budget increase from last year’s P93 million. Annually, the commission receives P60 million but last year’s budget ballooned to the P93 million because of the Netball Youth Cup hosted in Gaborone last winter. The tournament is said to have led to the budget overrun.
BNSC Chairman Solly Reikeletseng admitted in an interview that the commission was indeed bankrupt at the moment. According to him, the situation will only change when the government credits the account of the commission the usual annual funds. “Yes it is very correct, we do not have money, we have informed all the codes about the unfortunate situation and all is set to come back to normalcy when the financial year ends in April,” he said.
The situation however has left other sporting codes fuming. Some affiliates who had a balance with the commission feel hard done and are complaining and questioning the situation. Circular No 13 OF 2018 written on February 14 also confirms BNSC financial situation. “ Please be informed that we are currently experiencing financial challenges and therefore wish to inform all National Sport Associations that we will not be able to honour any request even if the NSA still has a positive balance,” part of the circular reads.
It is not the first time the commission has suffered financial drawbacks; in fact, allegations are rife that there is lack of accountability and abuse of power has been going unattended at the commission. In 2016, the Commission’s low lying Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Falcon Sedimo was reported to have noted that some posts within the sports organization do not add any value but rather milk the organisation’s coffers.
According to sources, at least four posts, currently held by the commission’s directors, were seriously being mulled for complete phasing out. This might still come to fruition especially with reports that the commission is currently undergoing a restructuring exercise. BNSC has four directors’ posts and it is said all combined, cost the sports body close to P200 000 monthly. “BNSC is reportedly broke and there are beliefs that some of the posts need to be removed as part of the solution to the problem,” sources admitted.
Botswana Karate Association (BOKA), Botswana Athletics Association (BAA), Botswana Volleyball Federation (BVF) and Botswana Football Association have all expressed concern before over the delay of the grants. There are 33 sports codes affiliated to BNSC. The genuine admission of the sports body also means it is not going to be simple for them to rebuff contracts with other companies that partner with them to help generate income. Most notably is the issue of Mascom Company that is believed to be playing a crucial role in spinning revenue for the commission. Sources say Mascom pays close to P30 000 to the BNSC every month for its branding contract at the National stadium.
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AFRICA’S RECOVERY: Sports as game changer
The year 2022 witnessed unprecedented phenomena. Several Africans- Gotytom Gebreslase, Sharon Lokedi, Victor Kiplangat, Tamarit Tola and many others- swept the World’s marathons records.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting control measures implemented in several countries, led to many high-level sports competitions being cancelled or shelved, the Dakar 2022 Youth Olympic Games was moved to 2026.
Founder and Executive Chairman, African Sports and Creative Institute, Will Mabiakop, says the inability to hold traditional and amateur sports events have had a serious effect on public health overall, including mental health, sparking a revolution whereby athletes began to talk more openly about stress, mental overload and performance anxiety.
“Africa is home to the fastest growing economies before the crisis, no longer on track to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). COVID-19 deepened interdependence between SDGs, making them harder to achieve, especially SDG 10 (reducing inequality) and SDG 5 (gender equality_ as the pandemic had a disproportionate impact on poorer countries, and heavier burdens (such as care work) fell to women.”
Mabiakop stresses that as policymakers contemplate actions to speed up recovery and build resilience, they must argue that sports and creative businesses should play a central feature in this effort.
“The sports economy worldwide is estimated at 5% of GDP, but only 0.5% in Africa. If exploited, Africa’s sports and creative industries can offer policymakers innovative solutions. Especially, as regards job creation, and providing employment to the 15 million people entering the job market annually.”
HOW CAN THE INDUSTRY DO THIS?
By leveraging the two-for-one concept: past studies shown that a 1% growth in the economy delivers a 2% job increment in this sector (these ratios are calculated using data from 48 African countries and adjusted to the reality of the sports economy in Africa by the authors). There are between 30 and 50 job types, in sports and creative industries, respectively. These jobs do not fade away with the first major shock.
Mabiakop indicated that policymakers can use these industries to tackle multiple crises- jobs, poverty, and climate risks. Sports diplomacy- defined as communication, representation and negotiation in or through the prism of sports- has proven effective in building inclusive and cohesive societies. Moreover, sports and the creative industry can support better mental health and well-being, both important for productivity.
“Policymakers can also be true to the game by leveraging culture and tradition to celebrate identity and reap commercial value in sports, textiles and jewelry. Creative sectors allow deeper connection with culture, are not easily copied and provide great economic potential.”
He said supporting grassroots sports has powerful distributional effects. “Fortunately, technology has made reaching wide audiences easier, generating higher rates of success when talent is discovered.”
However, Mabiakop held that potential pitfalls must be highlighted. “First avoid build it and they will come policies with infrastructures denuded from the rest of the ecosystem. Like the many sports stadiums left largely unused.”
“Policymakers must remain mindful of how these sectors move the needle in human capital development. Also, align the requisite public policies needed for progress from grassroots participation to professional sports, and even to international sporting events. They should also support investment instruments to render these sectors performant.”