BAA reported to Khama, Olopeng
Suspended Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) Administration Officer, Holiday Matibini has brazenly involved State President Ian Khama’s ministry and Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development (MYSC), Thapelo Olopeng, in his messy suspension case.
Matibini has written to both Khama and Olopeng’s ministries over what he terms ‘inappropriate handling’ of his suspension case. The officer was suspended on the dusk of last September over a litany of office abuse and other corrupt activity accusations. BAA avowed then that they would carry out a disciplinary hearing punctuated by both forensic and internal audits to determine the drasticity of the damage caused.
However, five months down the line, the athletics body is yet to walk the talk, further awakening curiosity that they could be sweeping the matter under the carpet as it would expose some of the leaders involved in the actions. Weekendsport has uncovered that the aggrieved officer has written a letter to the country leaders seeking redress over his suspension.
“I have four months now without pay, of which I heard from some EXCO members that they used my salaries to pay their debts; which include paying Lesotho athletes for their 2016 National Championships Prizes and other expenses,” reads the letter dated 5th of this month.
The one paged letter was received by the private secretaries of Ministry of Public Administration and Presidential Affairs (MOPAPA), MYSC as well as Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) CEO, Falcon Sedimo. The same letter was copied to BAA Sport Development Officer Gable Garenamotse. In the letter, Matibini further states that he is “miffed and dissatisfied by the BAA office management and how they path their direction.” The letter, according to Matibini is an appeal to the leaders to help him with the matter as he is getting it difficult in life without salaries.
According to sources, Matibini is not willing to let sleeping dogs lie and will mount a spirited fight to be reinstated or not be the only victim as there are others who were involved in the saga that rocked the association last year. He was expected to appear for the hearing last year December but it was called off at the eleventh hour. This year, he was scheduled to appear on the 26th of last month but it was postponed apparently because of rain. It was then rescheduled to the 3rd of this month, and again, it didn’t take place. He currently doesn’t know when his next mention will be.
However after penning the letter the officer met with the BAA leaders last week Thursday where they pleaded with him that he could have not applied the hard-line stance and promised they will pay him his outstanding wages. Matibini has also hit at the association, calling on them to reveal the name of adjudicators of his case and their credentials. By the time of going to print the association was yet to respond to his request.
“Those who will be handling the case are from within the sport fraternity and as you know we are volunteers of the game hence we couldn’t meet then but the disciplinary hearing will start soon,” said the newly appointed mouthpiece Charles Keikotlhae. He went on to say;”with regards to the letters I am not sure maybe some of my colleagues could have received them but we will meet and hopefully that’s when I would know about.”
The athletics leadership however is steadfast on its insistency that, despite the farcical nature of these events, it refuses to believe that this is a political decision taken in haste in order to taint one devotee of the game who served athletics since 2013.
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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.”
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