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Why Babitsengs dismissal letter got lost

Highly placed sources at the home of football have brought it to the attention of this publication that trouble is brewing at the Botswana Football Association (BFA) owing to “blatant disregard for laid down procedures”.

The BFA appears to be keen on seizing powers reserved for other structures, despite having been repeatedly warned to desist from such. Just recently, the Industrial Court pronounced that the Association should refrain from disrespecting its own constitution when its President, Tebogo Sebego swore under oath that the Association had met to draw a resolution to suspend Premier League Chief Executive Officer, (CEO) Bennett Mamelodi. This turned out not to be true as a meeting was never held.   

That the BFA is currently experiencing a torrid time is not in doubt. The fight for the control of the BFA has reached its highest point with three centres of power having emerged ahead of the elective general assembly scheduled for end of this month.

The warring camps are on full swing trying to score political points. During the presidential debate which was held last weekend for the hotly contested position, incumbent Tebogo Sebego had indicated that his former vice president, Tariq Babitseng was unceremoniously sacked from the governing body through a politically motivated scheme.

“Sebego made sure that his right hand man is not officially sacked, so that he could make a comeback as he has done now,” said a source that is close to developments.

In July 2015, a private and confidential letter was prepared by BFA legal advisor, Onkagetse Pusoentsi to expel Babitseng from football activities. This was after the pencil slim football administrator had abused funds during a Zebras trip to Guinea Bissau to which he was Head of Delegation. During that time, Babitseng was Vice President- Administration.

‘‘As you are aware on or about the 2nd August 2014, you travelled with the Senior National Team to Guinea Bissau as Head of Delegation following which you were accused of mishandling the contingency funds which were entrusted to you,’’ the letter reads.

‘‘Some reports and recommendations were prepared by yourself and were submitted to the Botswana National Sports Council and all were rejected resulting in the BFA being forced to pay USD 7,712.43 to the BNSC being the shortfall. This lead to the resolution by the National Executive Committee to suspend you from your office and football activities pending the investigations and findings on the use or misuse of the contingency funds for that trip,’’ the letter continued.

It happened that a three man committee of independent capacities was appointed to investigate the issue which later guided the NEC to expel Babitseng. Before the official expulsion letter was written, Babitseng was called to explain his side of the story. It came to the fore that, Babitseng, who is known to be Sebego’s foot soldier, did not convince the independent committee and the repercussions pointed to serious misconduct in terms of code of conduct for officials.

The letter posits that the NEC met on the 7th of April where an agreement was reached that Tariq failed to properly handle BFA funds. On the 29th of April 2015, it was also agreed that Babitseng be approached to voluntarily relinquish his duties as VPA in the interest of football which had already been tarnished by the issue.

Reports point out that the letter in question, which Sebego was to sign never reached Babitseng. Those close to developments say instead, the president procrastinated. Other information gleaned from various sources indicate that NEC got divided in Babitseng’s matter such that members had to vote by show of hands for Babitseng to leave Lekidi football centre.

Sebego‘s sympathy for his ‘feed-boy’ was always conspicuous. There was no price for guessing how, when he said on national television-during the live presidential debate-that Babitseng’s hands were clean.

However, eyebrows have been raised. His speech of August 1, 2015 has now betrayed him.

‘‘Following the report of the committee, the NEC resolved that its findings against Mr Babitseng rendered him unsuitable for the position. The NEC found that he was in breach of the code of conduct for BFA officials. On the basis of the powers vested on it by the constitution. NEC resolved to relieve the VPA of his duties. The NEC shall co-opt the VPA in due course. Structures shall be notified accordingly,’’ Sebego said.

Basadi Akoonyatse later took the reins.

The ‘magic’ letter according to the source has also cost former BFA CEO’s personal assistant her job. Information turned up by this publication suggests that she was assigned to make sure that the letter firing Babitseng from his position is delivered, a duty she failed and led to her being shown the door.

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Finally, sponsors jerk BFA

30th January 2023

With many being of the view that the state of football in Botswana has deteriorated significantly as it is no longer appealing to the business community, this was a good week for the football community. The Botswana Football Association (BFA) leadership under the stewardship of MacLean Letshwiti secured sponsorship for a combined value of P19. 3 million for the FA Cup competition and the First Division league – both South and North.

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Clubs petition Zackhem, Jagdish Shah

23rd January 2023

Some disgruntled Botswana Football League (BFL) shareholders are planning to petition the BFL board led by Gaborone United director and chief financier Nicolas Zackhem and his treasurer Jagdish Shah. Furthermore, they want to challenge the Botswana football Association (BFA) leadership over the deteriorating status of football in the country.

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P80 million windfall for BFA

9th January 2023

Botswana Football Association (BFA) is poised to benefit from FIFA’s forward development programme. The Association will receive over P80 million to be used during the course of the next four years, as the world football governing body is strengthens its commitment to building a stronger foundation and the growth of football.

The Forward 3.0 funds – to be accessed by all 54 CAF members for the next four years have seen an increase of USD 2 million compared to Forward 2.0 cycle and Forward 1.0 cycle when the programme was launched.

According to FIFA President Gianni Infantino, the third cycle of the programme will be launched this month and it will dedicate more financial resources than before to developing football nations as there is an overall increase of approximately 30% compared to Forward 2.0.

“It is vital that we are now strengthening our commitment to building a stronger foundation for the growth of football,” Infantino noted.

The 62 page report by FIFA-Forward-Development-Programme-Forward-3-0-regulations also reveals that for travel and equipment, each member association, subject to compliance with the regulations, will receive an additional USD 1 million to cover the cost of travel and accommodation for their national teams. It further states that the remaining funds may be used to cover the cost of travel and accommodation for domestic competitions organized by the member associations.

“A contribution of up to USD 200,000 for the four-year cycle (2023-2026) to cover the cost of any football equipment related to the training of players and organization of matches (e.g. full kits for the national teams, balls, mini goals, bibs, substitution boards and referees’ communication systems) for those member associations that are identified as needing the most assistance,” the report indicated.

FIFA President, Infantino and his team said the member association is identified as needing the most assistance, for the purpose of the contributions, where their annual revenues (excluding Forward Programme funds as well as funds from any other FIFA programme/ initiative) do not exceed USD 4 million as the figure shall be reflected in the latest annual statutory audit report submitted to the FIFA general secretariat within six months after the closing of the relevant financial year.

Nevertheless, the contributions for travel will be released in four equal installments of USD 250,000 each in January every year, whilst those for equipment will be released in four equal installments of USD 50,000 each in January every year provided that the member association has fulfilled the conditions.

For the specific projects – in the case of Botswana and Namibia – there is an ambition to host the AFCON 2027 and if the joint bid succeed, the two nations will need to build new stadium to meet the requirements of CAF as the Bid technical committee has alluded before; therefore the two associations could make an appeal for extra funds to FIFA.

The report further says where a member association uses funds allocated for specific projects to improve or build new football infrastructure for its direct benefit or for the benefit of another entity (e.g. regional associations or clubs), the member association shall also provide, as part of the supporting documents, the FIFA general secretariat with the relevant national land registry certificate or extract confirming that the member association or the other entity is the owner of the land or the agreements confirming the donation, transfer or other form of provision to, or use of land by the association.

When contacted for comment, local sports analyst, Jimmy George said; “Ours is more a lack of vision, than money to finance programs. Regrettably when you lack vision not even USD 8 million can bail you out. Its pity the funds might be used to pay for the past projects that have yielded very little success.”

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