The incongruent messages from key IAAF personnel validates the suspicions surrounding Isaac Makwala’s shambolic barring from the 400m final at the London Stadium on frivolous ‘medical grounds’.
The most ridiculous claim from London was the suggestion that Makwala experienced the forceful expulsion of the contents of his stomach and part of the small intestines through the mouth for 18 hours! Surely he would have died! This day dreaming smacks of cowardly chicanery. The decision to block Makwala from competing in his favoured race smacks of sabotage and fraud. Pundits were shocked at the level of poor communication by the IAAF officials after they delivered a fraudulent verdict on Botswana 400m sprint icon’s medical condition.
Rightly so, the Botswana Government is incensed and has instructed a team of lawyers to confront the IAAF on the ‘unfair’ treatment of Makwala. The actions of the IAAF have been found wanting and rickety, the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Thapelo Olopeng told Parliament that Government lawyers are busy drafting protest papers directed at the IAAF following the unfair treatment of Makwala. In fact it could have been more pain for Makwala, the 400m sprint icon was sabotaged and blocked from participating in the 200m heats as well – the 400m final came after he missed the 200m heats.
Allegations were flying thick and fast to the effect that this was a calculated move designed to favour the IAAF preferred athlete, a poster boy of some sort, Wayde van Niekerk in the wake of Usain Bolt's retirement. IAAF feared that Makwala was going to embarrass their chosen would-be winner according to pundits. Minister Olopeng has indicated that IAAF officials rejected Botswana delegation's medical report and violently barred Makwala from even entering the stadium in London because of an assumed 'medical condition'.
Pundits have dismissed the IAAF's 'ridiculous' grounds for barring Makwala and it is very likely that the Botswana Government will push this matter to the last stage. There is no doubt that the IAAF medical delegation’s poisonous move almost scattered Makwala and team Botswana's chance to a podium finish. The psychology of the team was negatively affected by the irrational decision by the IAAF. But the resolve of Makwala and his team mates and a goodwill support from the crowds and social media cheered the team.
For his account Makwala, after IAAF officials cooked up another statement claiming elapse of a 48hour quarantine for the 400m athlete, he was allowed to race against a time of 20.53seconds in order to qualify for the semi-finals of the 200m race. He blistered his way through the wet surface and powered across the finish line in 20.20 seconds. Makwala further shamed the IAAF conspirators in the semi-finals, clocking an impressive 20.14 seconds to qualify for the finals.
But in a final showdown, a nation full of hope watched in shock as Makwala succumbed under immense pressure while 400m gold winner Wayde van Niekerk gave him a torrid time. But it was Turkish sprinter Ramil Guliyev who gate-crushed the finals becoming the global king of the 200m race- scooping a gold medal. Clearly the local lad was always going to find it difficult to break boundaries. In a space of two days he ran three races recording contrasting times. Unbelievably, Makwala clocked an awful time on the finals- 20:44.
Pundits point out that fatigue, conspiracies and mounting pressure are factors that might have played a disappointing role that saw Makwala losing out in the last minute. At some point there were attempts by the IAAF head of medical delegation, Dr Venning: She explained: “He had taken a history, examined him, pulse, respiratory and the history from this gentleman is clear that he had symptoms similar to all the other athletes classified as having this gastro-intestinal disease.” Makwala and the Botswana delegation have denied all these made up statements. Makwala insists he was never medically examined by the IAAF doctors. At some point it was claimed that Makwala vomited for more than 18 hours, a ridiculous suggestion that would have sent Makwala straight to grave because of loss of body fluids.
Venning’s explanations, fell short because she could not even tell whether Makwala’s symptoms “could be attributed to any other reason as opposed to making the assumption that it is norovirus”. The IAAF doctor claimed the decision to bar Makwala was meant to protect other athletes in the stadium – where as he was set aside purely on assumption. Social media came to Makwala’s rescue, it has to be stated. Michael Johnson and other former athletes followed Makwala’s case through and through and regularly updated on it. Batswana joined the fray in their numbers and indeed the IAAF was shamed and it ordered a time trial race for the ‘Badman’.
Makwala rewarded with P 100,000
At the High Level Consultative Council (HLCC) meeting on Thursday, President Lt Gen Ian Khama hailed the tremendous determination and spirit that was displayed by Isaac Makwala in the face of his "unfair" barring by the IAAF from running in the 400m final and 200m qualifier this week. The President informed the meeting that it had been decided to reward Makwala with the P 100,000 gold medal incentive that he would have been otherwise entitled to if he had won the race. Government position is that Makwala was denied a chance to compete for the prize hence the decision to reward him.
The President also thanked the domestic and international media, officials and members of public for their support which had been rewarded with last night's special run. The President also announced that a special day will be scheduled in the near future to honour Makwala. Meanwhile interviewed and quoted elsewhere, the IAAF World Athletics Championships 2017, Wayde van Niekerk said wished he could give 400m gold to Isaac Makwala.
"I really wish him a speedy recovery. On Monday, I saw him just before the 200m heats and the only thing I could think of was wrapping my arms around him and saying get well soon because I wouldn’t wish that on anyone," van Niekerk was quoted as saying by The Guardian. "It is such a massive pity. Obviously, there are a lot of fingers that are being pointed right now. I would allow him to have his fair opportunity. I wish he could have run. I wish I could give him my medal to be honest. But this is sport. We all have disappointments, we all have tough times – we just have to fight back even harder,” he added.
The case involving the improper registration of Township Rollers left back, Onkarabile Ratanang which has been dragging for a long time since the beginning of this year was finally put to bed this week after Botswana Football League (BFL) Disciplinary Committee (DC) found Mapalastina guilty.
In what shocked many football fanatics this week, Popa Popa as they are affectionately known by their legion of fans were fined P15 000 for using a defaulter in some of their league matches. It must be noted that no team officially filed a formal protest against Rollers. In April this year, Botswana Football Association (BFA) Secretariat conducted investigations into registration of Ratanang and discovered that the player was registered outside the transfer registration period.
According to a statement from secretariat, it revealed that BFA registration period was from 13th July 2021 to the 30th September 2021 but Ratanang was registered on the 28th of October 2021 and this was done contrary to the rules and statutes of the BFA. After the investigations were conducted, two officials from Rollers and a former BFA employee Setete Phuthego who are alleged to have been implicated in the registration of Ratanang were suspended from all footballing activities.
The two Rollers officials were, General Manager Sydney Magagane and Team Manager Motshegetsi Mafa. However Mafa’s suspension was withdrawn on June 27 though there was no disciplinary hearing conducted. Rollers was represented by Bennett Mamelodi who is the CEO of the club together with Kgosietsile Ngaakagae and Martin Dingake in the Ratanang case. The Botswana Premier League (BFL) Prosecution team was led by Chalengwa Manyepedza, Bojosi and three other members.
When delivering the long awaited judgement on Thursday, Manyepedza who is the chairman of BFL Prosecution team said there were two mitigating factors in favour of Rollers with the most important aggravating factor being the seriousness of the offence. “To their benefit and it has not been violently contested to suggest otherwise, Rollers approached the BFA office for help (in their words) and curiously the BFA office that ought to be custodians of the system allowed the request and thereafter kept quiet about the matter,” reads part of the judgement.
“It is a matter of record that Township Rollers have maintained that the situation central to the case was facilitated and somewhat sanctioned by the named BFA officer who received the application albeit out of time as it has been established but still proceeded to procure the registration and clearance of the player and thereafter kept quiet about the matter.”
Furthermore Manyepedza indicated that there is a problem in the BFA office in terms of governance and adherence to controls judging from what allegedly happened. He further said whilst the BFA junior officer claimed that they were directed by a superior officer to assist the accused, “there has been nothing more placed before us to support the argument that Rollers were the only party with dirt on their hands in his case.”
He went on to emphasize that the committee finds that the appropriate sanction should also pronounce that the respective office of the BFA that facilitated the transgression was also remiss and complicit in their discharge of their functions. “As stated in the main judgement the player was a defaulter and the issue of his status did not arise from the protest or complaint or in any way as contemplated in the BFL Disciplinary code. It must be emphasized that the case would been different if all the issues had an aggrieved party or if any would have followed the set procedure in the BFL code,” he said.
Manyepedza said after taking all relevant factors into account including the demands of justice, the committee finds it fitting that the possible punishment in the matter to be prescribed above at clause 6.3 to be a fine of P15 000 and that the fine should be paid within 3 days of the judgement. In conclusion, he cautioned Rollers to refrain from any further acts of being negligent or clumsy in discharging their office functions to end up seeking favours from officials. Manyepedza also advised Rollers that they have 10 days to appeal the judgement.
Youthful coach Wame Mokoke has come out with guns blazing to the Extension Gunners official who he said recruited him back to the club after he dumped them for greener pastures at Jwaneng Galaxy but failed to deliver on their promises.
Pepe Zino, as he is otherwise known, then joined Galaxy on a 2 year deal to deputise head coach Morena Ramorebodi but 2 weeks later retraced his steps back to Mapantsula, a move he highly regrets. “That guy (name withheld as the issue is now before the courts of law) counteroffered what Galaxy had offered, promised to timely pay my salary from his company on behalf of Gunners and also promised me a 4 hectare piece of land at Dikgonnye, that is what really lured me back but he failed to deliver, ” Mokoke said in an interview with this publication.
After rejoining Gunners much to the allured charm that was dangled in front of him, Mokoke timely received his first month salary back in January but nothing thereafter as the unending stories began. “I could be far by now as Galaxy offered me an opportunity of a lifetime. They even promised to further my coaching badges but look at where I am now, “Mokoke disappointedly explained.
However, Mokoke said he has approached the labour courts for his defaulted payments and as for the piece of land, he registered the case with the High Court of Botswana and they are set to appear for a hearing on the 6th of August. He further added that he has proof of all the documents the official allegedly signed before his own laywers to authorise the land giveaway and the promise of monthly salary payments and furnished the judges with them.
A week ago Mokoke went back home as he was unveiled as the new First Division side Mahalapye Highlanders head coach on a 2 year deal and said he is excited about the new challenge that lies ahead of him as the management gave him attainable goals. “They simply asked me come and help them get promoted back to the premier league by building my own team and promised to avail the resources. I have also been given the authority over the establishment of our junior teams.
To try and achieve all these in a space of 2 years is a fair requirement,” he added. One of the projects Mokoke envisions is to try and unite the people of Mahalapye in terms of trying to get fully behind Highlanders including the supporters and the players in and around the Mahalapye area.
For starters, Mokoke said he wants to alter the tradition that has ingrained at Highlanders as majority of the players there were not from the team’s area of abode and he wants to give Mahalapye players a chance in order for them to don the blue and white of Highlanders with pride and sense of belonging and to steer the ship.
Furthermore, Mokoke is equally peturbed by the trend among the football fraternity of local coaches being undermined while their foreign counterparts enjoy prestigious welfare albeit being equally qualified as them. “Let us change the welfare of our local coaches who have oftentimes showed that they are equally qualified and capable like foreign coaches. Let us invest in our own and also empower them,” said Mokoke in a parting shot.
Botswana shall be sending a team of 34 athletes to represent the country at the biggest games of the 2022 calendar year, the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, officially known as the XXII Commonwealth Games.
The Games are slated to take place between the 28th July and 8th August 2022 in Birmingham, England. According to BNSOC, Botswana has been accorded thirty-five (35) slots at the upcoming games and has been able to qualify outright one athlete from the Botswana Weightlifting Federation making the total team size thirty-six (34), the largest team to be fielded by less population country thus far.
In celebrating and lauding this feat by team Botswana, , the British High Commissioner to Botswana, Her Excellency Sian Price recently hosted an intimate reception for the team, at her residence. “Consider this little bit of the UK in Botswana the first stage on your journey to Birmingham. It’s not just me that is excited to have you here, the city of Birmingham is very excited to welcome you, and they are welcoming you and all other family members from across the commonwealth because we are a family of nations, and we enjoy these celebrations that introduce the coming together of family to play together, to celebrate together and to strive together for excellence,” said Price.
Price said this will be the most inclusive Commonwealth Games ever, with more para sports than ever before and for the first time in history this makes me excited; there will be more medal events for women than for men. When addressing the athletes, BNOC CEO Botho Bayendi reveals to ‘unveil’ the concept that is believed to be mastered seed that will grow and bear fruit as they go to Birmingham from today up to the day of departure in 2024.
“As BNOC we have partnered with BITC, and BNSC to conceive a concept called the first, the best and the number one. In this concept, we are trying to persuade the mindset of the people to say that sports is for sports for live, sports generate joy to us all and sports unite,” she said. Bayendi further explained that this is a concept where they will be approaching individuals and companies who in their line of business have been classified as the best of the best or the number one.
“We intend to leverage the national unity behind sports in relation to the ultimate sports excellence. We are saying that we want to create an atmosphere where everybody, every national of Botswana will relate positively with the sports excellence and will be contributing that excellence,” she said. “The Olympic Games are guided by the values of excellence, friendship, and respect. Therefore, we want to be selling these values and allowing everybody, the company, individual to relate with these values.”
For his part chairman of Botswana Olympic Association France Mabiletsa, a former Olympian, said athletes should dream big so that those who come after them will enjoy and benefit from their dreams. He advised them to just enjoy their sport. “Don’t take drugs, don’t dodge from the camps because the moment you start dodging, or you don’t come back you will be punished severely,” he said. Standard charted bank CEO Mpho Masupe said it is important that as athletes they look in the long term and see where they can excel so that they know whether they could make a good coach, teacher, or instructor, saying they should not limit themselves.