The Botswana Football Association (BFA) National Executive Committee has decided to intervene in the commercialisation of clubs debate, which has so far seen clubs ailing over the power struggle.
WeekendSport has learnt that the NEC is working around the clock to consult with relevant stake-holders on what model local teams can adopt to traverse the route of professionalism.
To date, three so- called big teams in the elite league have adopted different models of running their clubs but lately indications are that the styles of running the clubs are attracting serious back lash.
Three clubs that are faced with this conundrum include Gaborone United, who boast property developer, in Nicholas Zakhem as financer; Mochudi Centre Chiefs financed by another business property mogul, Said Jamali; and Township Rollers who roped in Indian tycoon, Jagdish Shah.
However, the three teams have, of late, found themselves fighting a bitter war regarding control of the clubs. The chief catalyst igniting the unexpected fires is, in the eyes of many, the inability to dissolve societies. From time immemorial, the local teams have been administered and controlled by groups of people who in many times are sacrificing their finances to better the clubs.
While the noble act dying off, such famous teams opted for financiers to help them drive the commercialisation blue print. Gaborone United is currently at war, with many plotting to push out Zakhem, with a view that he has turned the “money machine” into his own business entity. On the other hand Township Rollers stands on the verge of collapse as the brutal war between the two major shareholders Jagdish and Somerset rages on, intensifying with each passing week. Mochudi Centre Chiefs also has their fair share of problems, which too are ocean deep. The team is caught up in an identity crisis after realisation struck that the team had two societies registered, while another idea of forming an independent trust is raising eyebrows.
Kitso Kemoeng, the football association’s talented Chief Executive Officer admitted that the NEC is busy consulting to try and find a better model of club ownership. “Yes, there has been that issue of commercialisation. Our own clubs are in danger after attracting financers, we are consulting and we want to help them grow better and bigger,” he said.
On the available models, there is one known as membership make up. This is the model the BFA is likely to pursue, according to informed sources. This mould sees card carrying members of a club electing a board and a president. The members have a certain fee they are expected to pay in each and every month. This model of governance has four key strategic areas.
The first area is the prioritization of sporting success, with the playing and football management team rebuilt and refinanced with positive results. The other strategic area is the reassertion of member democracy and improvements in transparency of club governance, and the establishment of a campaign to increase club membership as a vehicle to build the financial strength of the club.
The third area is the implementation of a commercial strategy designed to generate increased revenues from off-field activities and improve financial performance while an aggressive commercial strategy, the implementation of an innovative series of corporate social responsibility initiatives as part of a carefully crafted strategy designed to demonstrate that it is indeed an institution that explicitly recognises a set of wider social and cultural obligation comes as the fourth key element. The association is expected to furnish its clubs with the best possible model before long.
BUT CAN OWNERSHIP MODEL BE REPLICATED IN LOCAL TEAMS? Since the elevation of Jamali, Zakhem and Jagdish in their respective clubs as financers, the supporters and management at the football teams have embraced a new era of commercialism, and accepted the need to operate in the global market, and expand commercial activities by appealing to new markets such as Africa in order to achieve success on the field and commercial success off it.
This may seem ironic, given that one of the reasons Somerset Gobuiwang and Jagdish Shah, for instance, are at odds over each other is because it is felt that the club is becoming too commercially oriented and there is a worry that it is becoming a privately owned company rather than a members’ club.
However, where the business model at such clubs differed from their infant stages is that the commercial driven model is based on strong cultural and social principles. The commercial strategy, according to the eye of observers, is finely balanced with maintaining the traditions of the club, such as member democracy and corporate social responsibility, while at the same time achieving sporting success.
This model of ownership appears to indicate that the relationship between member democracy, commercial strategy, corporate social responsibility and sporting success is symbiotic.
The model of ownership will therefore epitomize a well-run football club that aggressively markets itself around the world as the very embodiment of sporting excellence and cultural sophistication with all the associate romance of an institution that is truly owned by its members and that stands for something.
However, there is still a question as to whether this model will really work in local teams. It is widely practiced by high flying clubs like Juventus, Real Madrid and Barcelona- the same clubs that the CEO mentioned, not once.
It is still blur when assessing the reason for the ultimate wars coming with these business men. It will appear that they seek to remodel the clubs as a modern corporation. Shah, for instance, is in many ways typical of the new breed of businessman taking charge of football in the 1990s. In style and management he seems to be echoing the political ambition of clubs that keeps the core of players for too long.
However, the answer to this question may be that while no large premiership club may voluntarily convert to such a mutual ownership model, bankruptcy at a major club as the country moves out of global economic recession, it may well create an opportunity for a well-organized group of supporters at clubs like Extension Gunners and Township Rollers, where there is a strong fan culture and sense of tradition and of course, moral ownership.
What the this model demonstrates is that there is nothing inherent that disallows the development of teams capable of participating more champions league or of building a sustainable financial strategy independent of the need for equity/shareholder investment.
What is required as football analyst, Jimmy George will contend is the ability of the local football supporters to organize themselves into a democratically accountable and disciplined body capable of taking over a large club. “It is very possible and we need to be organised and disciplined and the opportunity to engage in such a takeover will be simple,” George said.
Former Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Member of Parliament for Gaborone North, Haskins Nkaigwa has confirmed his departure from opposition fold to re-join the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
Nkaigwa said opposition is extremely divided and the leadership not in talking terms. “They are planning evil against each other. Nothing much will be achieved,” Nkaigwa told WeekendPost.
“I believe my time in the opposition has come to an end. It’s time to be of value to rebuilding our nation and economy of the country. Remember the BDP is where I started my political journey. It is home,” he said.
“Despite all challenges currently facing the world, President Masisi will be far with his promises to Batswana. A leader always have the interest of the people at heart despite how some decisions may look to be unpopular with the people.
“I have faith and full confidence in President Dr Masisi leadership. We shall overcome as party and nation the current challenges bedevilling nations. BDP will emerge stronger. President Masisi will always have my backing.”
Nkaigwa served as opposition legislator between 2014-2019 representing Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) under UDC banner. He joined BMD in 2011 at the height public servant strike whilst Gaborone City Deputy Mayor. He eventually rose to become the mayor same year, after BDP lost majority in the GCC.
Nkaigwa had been a member of Botswana National Front (BNF), having joined from Alliance for Progressives (AP) in 2019.
Botswana has received assistance worth over P100 million from Japanese government since 2019, making the latter of the largest donors to Botswana in recent years.
The assistance include relatively large-scale grant aid programmes such as the COVID-19 programme (to provide medical equipment; P34 million), the digital terrestrial television programme (to distribute receivers to the underprivileged, P17 million), the agriculture promotion programme (to provide agricultural machinery and equipment, P53million).
“As 2020 was a particularly difficult year, where COVID-19 hit Botswana’s economy and society hard, Japan felt the need to assist Botswana as our friend,” said Japan’s new Ambassador to Botswana, Hoshiyama Takashi.
“It is for this reason that grants of over P100 million were awarded to Botswana for the above mentioned projects.”
Japan is now the world’s fourth highest ranking donor country in terms of Official Development Assistance (ODA).
From 1991 to 2000, Japan continued as the top donor country in the world and contributed to Asia’s miracle economic development.
From 1993 onwards, the TICAD process commenced through Japan’s initiative as stated earlier. Japan’s main contribution has been in the form of Yen Loans, which are at a concessional rate, to suit large scale infrastructure construction.
“In Botswana, only a few projects have been implemented using the Yen Loan such as the Morupule “A” Power Station Rehabilitation and Pollution Abatement in 1986, the Railway Rolling Stock Increase Project in 1987, the Trans-Kalahari Road Construction Project in 1991, the North-South Carrier Water Project in 1995 and the Kazungula Bridge Construction Project in 2012,” said Ambassador Hoshiyama.
“In terms of grant aid and technical assistance, Japan has various aid schemes including development survey and master planning, expert dispatch to recipient countries, expert training in Japan, scholarships, small scale grass-roots program, culture-related assistance, aid through international organizations and so on.”
In 1993, Japan launched Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) to promote Africa’s development, peace and security, through the strengthening of relations in multilateral cooperation and partnership.
TICAD discuss development issues across Africa and, at the same time, present “aid menus” to African countries provided by Japan and the main aid-related international organizations, United Nations (UN), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank.
“As TICAD provides vision and guidance, it is up to each African country to take ownership and to implement her own development following TICAD polices and make use of the programmes shown in the aid menus,” Ambassordor Hoshiyama noted.
“This would include using ODA loans for quality infrastructure, suited to the country’s own nation-building needs. It is my fervent hope that Botswana will take full advantage of the TICAD process.”
Since then, seven conferences where held, the latest, TICAD 7 being in 2019 at Yokohama. TICAD 7’s agenda on African development focused on three pillars, among them the first pillar being “Accelerating economic transformation and improving business environment through innovation and private sector engagement”.
“Yes, private investment is very important, while public investment through ODA (Official Development Assistance) still plays an indispensable role in development,” the Japanese Ambassador said.
“For further economic development in Africa, Japan recognizes that strengthening regional connectivity and integration through investment in quality infrastructure is key.”
Japan has emphasized the following; effective implementation of economic corridors such as the East Africa Northern Corridor, Nacala Corridor and West Africa Growth Ring; Quality infrastructure investment in line with the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment should be promoted by co-financing or cooperation through the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Japan.
Japan also emphasized the establishment of mechanisms to encourage private investment and to improve the business environment.
According to the statistics issued by Japan’s Finance Ministry, Japan invested approximately 10 billion US dollars in Africa after TICAD 7 (2019) to year end 2020, but Japanese investment through third countries are not included in this figure.
“With the other points factored in, the figure isn’t established yet,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
The next conference, TICAD 8 will be held in Tunisia in 2022. This will be the second TICAD summit to be held on the African continent after TICAD 6 which was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2016.
According to Ambassador Hoshiyama, in preparation for TICAD 8, the TICAD ministerial meeting will be held in Tokyo this year. The agenda to be discussed during TICAD 8 has not yet been fully deliberated on amongst TICAD Co-organizers (Japan, UN, UNDP, the World Bank and AU).
“Though not officially concluded, given the world situation caused by COVID-19, I believe that TICAD 8 will highlight health and medical issues including the promotion of a Universal Health Coverage (UHC),” said Hoshiyama.
“As the African economy has seriously taken a knock by COVID-19, economic issues, including debt, could be an item for serious discussion.”
The promotion of business is expected to be one of the most important topics. Japan and its partners, together with the business sector, will work closely to help revitalize private investment in Africa.
“All in all, the follow-up of the various programs that were committed by the Co-Organizers during the Yokohama Plan of Actions 2019 will also be reviewed as an important item of the agenda,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
“I believe that this TICAD follow-up mechanism has secured transparency and accountability as well as effective implementation of agreed actions by all parties. The guiding principle of TICAD is African ownership and international partnership.”
Directorate on Intelligence Services (DIS) Director General, Brigadier Peter Magosi is said to be hell-bent and pushing President Mokgweetsi Masisi to reshuffle his cabinet as a matter of urgency since a number of his ministers are conflicted.
The request by Magosi comes at a time when time is ticking on his contract which is awaiting renewal from Masisi.
This publication learns that Magosi is unshaken by the development and continues to wield power despite uncertainty hovering around his contractual renewal.