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Why Babitseng’s 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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Sebego challenges BFA constitution

13th October 2021
Tebogo Sebego

Botswana Football Association (BFA) constitution appears to be under heavy scrutiny as Tebogo Sebego, the president of Notwane Sporting club, questions its authenticity, with strong indications that several clauses were removed and others added without the input of the General Assembly.

Sebego, who vied for the BFA presidency in October 2020, feels Notwane is a bonafide member of BFA and has been participating in the past three BFA assemblies but cannot be part of the mess that the club and others did not create. On 13th September 2021, Notwane forwarded a complaint letter to the football association’s chief executive officer (CEO), challenging how two constitutions were amended.

The club says a constitution dated 25th June 2021 and the other bearing a stamp of 10th December 2020 were amended under fraudulent circumstances and want an explanation on how it transpired. “We have recently received a constitution dated 25th June 2021 stamped by the registrar of societies. The said constitution carries some changes that were never discussed and voted upon at the BFA general assembly.

Of particular interest, we have noted that the following new amendments, Article 33 of the 2016 constitution, is replaced by article 30. The procedure has been reduced, but the principles remain the same. The relevance of this is to restate the constitutional culture and mandatory powers of the General Assembly as the sole body responsible for constitutional amendments,” part of the letter seen by this publication reads.

Article 33 that Sebego complains of reads thus, “The general assembly is responsible for amending the constitution and the standing orders of the general assembly.” Furthermore, Notwane argues that another article (22.1) of the 2021 constitution then wipes off the presence of 16 delegates from the Premier League clubs and eight representatives from the first division together with their voting rights.

The club believes that while the autonomy of the Botswana Football League (BFL) was approved in the 2020 General Assembly, the assembly never discussed, voted or approved the removal of delegates from the General Assembly. The team believes that the amendments are therefore unlawful for lack of authority from the General Assembly. This is the case because it has a significant impact on the landscape of the structure of the General Assembly, Notwane argues.

Moreover, Notwane’s shock is skyrocketing, especially when raising another equally screaming change in the constitution. In the letter state, the club states that article 33.4 of the 2021 constitution introduces a term limit for the president. The club speculates that the amendment seems to be carried from the 2019 version of the constitution, and whatever its genesis, the matter was never before the General Assembly.

“It is only the General Assembly that has powers, through the right constitutional channels to introduce a limitation on the term of the president and further to define the limitation based on the reasons presented to it,” the argument goes on. The old constitution was limited to at most two terms, but it seems the president can now enjoy the third term.

Sebego and Notwane argue that they have raised these articles to demonstrate that the constitution was amended without following due process in an unconstitutional, unlawful and somewhat fraudulent manner. They say this 2021 constitution and that of the 2019 version are, in their view, unlawful documents and should be reversed without delay.

The complaint letter was also copied to the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) desk and the registrar of societies — an organisation that issued a stamp on the constitutions in question. Notwane, in a parting shot, wants to be furnished with minutes that allowed the constitutional changes because, to their understanding, there was none.

It has come to the attention of this publication that Notwane had given the BFA head of secretariat seven days to have replied, but nothing has come out. However, neither party was available for comment as the paper was going to print.

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Cooper awaits FIFA decision 

13th October 2021
Mothusi' Mini' Cooper

A clash of personal egos, paper trail gone wrong and unfulfilled promises are the primary reasons Botswana international star player, Mothusi’ Mini’ Cooper is still on the fringes despite a vast of football talent at his disposal.

Cooper has suddenly become the centre of controversy after completing a dream move to Lusaka Power Dynamos in Zambia and adorned by many football lovers. His move left his parent club, Township Rollers, divided. Cooper left Rollers last season, but the club he was hoping to re-write his name into folklore has suddenly given him nightmares where he is now stuck on the way forward.

It is reported that the pint-sized midfielder has terminated his two-year contract with the Lusaka club after the club failed to fulfil the terms of the agreement. When cancelling the contract, Cooper was doing so with the hope that he would eventually re-united his old club, Township Rollers.

According to informants, Rollers high-ranking officials refused to accept Cooper back because Power Dynamos is yet to finish the transfer fee paid for the player. It is said that Rollers were reluctant to release the player, but his agent forced matters, consequently fracturing the relationship between the player and Rollers management.

Cooper was earning close to P 25 000 per month, but that lasted for a while. As things stand, the player was training with BDF XI to retain fitness level, but his future is yet to be thoroughly established. Rollers are believed to be reluctant to negotiate terms with him again, and that alone cast aspersions on the way forward. Had the player left on good terms, he would have been readily accepted back, sources claim.

From what this publication gathered, Rollers is still livid at how Cooper left the club, but what is more of a serious matter is the fractured relationship between the club and player agent. It is said that Rollers had failed to pay the agent his dues when Cooper was sold to Lusaka Power Dynamos.

While others within the Rollers executive committee believe this matter could be quickly resolved, the club is still awaiting paper documents filed at FIFA seeking Lusaka Power Dynamos to complete payment of the player. It is not yet clear how much is owed to Township Rollers, but what is apparent is that Dynamos has disappointed.

Cooper was on the wanted list of Orapa United, but the transfer window closed before anything tangible could be discussed.  Phemperetle Pheto, the spokesperson of Rollers, refused to shared details regarding Cooper matter. However, their chief executive officer Bennett Mamelodi indicated through the club’s online magazine that the case is before FIFA statutes and will be discussed soon.

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League returns October

5th October 2021
premier league players

After more than 550 days without competitive football game in the country, information gleaned from various sources indicates that the Botswana Football League (BFL) is expected to start the 2021/2022 football season not early or late October.

The resumption of the 2021/2020 season comes after a year and few months since March 2020. Local football was halted during the second round of 2019/2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  The ban on competitive sport aimed to keep the spread of the coronavirus disease under control. The pandemic had already forced the BFA executive committee to declare the 2020/2021 season null and void in March, citing that the resumption would have caused a fixture pile-up in a limited space of time.

In a brief interview with this publication, the newly appointed BFL Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Solomon Ramochotlhwane, said the preparations are ongoing for the football season.  “We are engaging all the relevant stakeholders such as the referees’ committee, teams, even Botswana Football Association (BFA)”.

Ramochotlhwane also revealed that all teams would be expected to test for COVID-19 every fortnight once the league has started. He further indicated that they have since written a letter through the mother body, BFA proposing the vaccination of all the players and technical team members. The Government vaccination rollout plan targets people aged 30 to 44, and BPL wants all players to be included in this age group.

However, Ramochotlhwane noted that they are currently waiting for a response from the health authorities concerning the vaccination of players and the technical teams.  Moreover, Ramochotlhwane indicated that they would use certified stadiums that meet the Confederation of African Football (CAF) standards. BFL, an organ established to run the elite league independently from the Botswana Football Association (BFA), is currently negotiating with former headline sponsors, Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC).

Impeccable sources report that the two parties are considering a reunion to lift football from its knees. Information gleaned from various sources indicates that each party has amenability and willingness to re-engage, but there is nothing concrete to talk about at this stage. When commenting on the prospects of BTC coming on board to be headline sponsors, BPL CEO said sponsors need assurances that activities will go according to plan and would not risk committing their money into uncertainties.

Ramochotlhwane would not confirm any names but instead mentioned that they have a plan as BPL in place.   It is reported that the new BFL board of directors is quickly drawn to the side of local network giants who also have changed faces in their administrative and marketing wings. BFL is oozing with confidence after reports emerged that BTC’s profits have risen to P 832M. Meanwhile, it is reported that BFA National Executive Committee recently agreed to extend a P 5 million loan to the BFL to commence the 2021-22 football season.

The reported P5 million loan deal follows numerous attempts to secure sponsorship by the newly established BFL body but to no avail. The amount is meant to augment other sponsorship finances sourced thus far. As things stand, the BPL board is believed to have secured a P 6 million broadcast deal with Botswana Television (BTV) and have also closed files with Absa Bank on a reported P3 million deal. The 5 million BFA loan is an expected add-on to the overall P9 million already in the account of the BFL. The move, therefore, means that the 2021-22 football season will be powered at a value of P 14 million.

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