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Eritrea problems deeper than asylum seeking

This past week we were reminded amidst jubilation, after defeating the Eritrea national team, that to them, winning a football match is not their biggest problem. To them, it is murkier than that, coming from one of the world’s poorest countries, and what is considered the most repressive nation, where, according to the UN, forced labour detention without trial are common.


The country has no independent media, and speaking out against the dictatorship or questioning the status quo could earn one jail time, under inhumane circumstances. According to reports, Eritreans are the second largest nationality seeking asylum in Europe after Syrians, many risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean Sea in rickety boats supplied by traffickers.


In fact, there have been mass defections by athletes from the poor state, notably, the 15 players and a team doctor from Eritrea who were offered asylum by Uganda after they absconded from a football tournament in 2013.


In that country men and unmarried women are conscripted into national service for indefinite periods, often until their 40s. Media reports on the ten players who are refusing to return home after playing the Zebras cite that they too fear being enlisted in the Eritrean army.


Earlier on in June this year, a UN Inquiry reported gross violation of human rights in Eritrea. The report had said the government of that country was responsible for “systematic, widespread and gross humans rights violations that have created a climate of fear in which dissent is stifled, a large proportion of the population is subjected to forced labour and imprisonment…” the UNHCR website says.


“Information gathered through the pervasive control system is used in absolute arbitrariness to keep the population in a state of permanent anxiety,” the 500-page report said. “It is not law that rules Eritreans but fear.”


The team we watched play our own have nothing really to cheer about. They never voted for their leader, and were born into a dictatorship; they have known fear all their lives. Being wounded in that football pitch to them could have been more than just a game, they were probably reminded, as any wounded man of their failure, and how even in the football pitch they could never taste success at anything.  


While it is easy to take for granted their plight, and maybe even choose to play the blame game over what transpired after that Francistown game, the Minister of Security Justice and Defence Shaw Kgathi more than anything proved his ignorance over the matter. By allowing anger and hatred to inform his choice of words, the minister only embarrassed himself and the government.

“It’s simple- they must go back home. You don't come to a country to play football, lose and then say you want political asylum, no! There are proper steps to take and they can do that from their home country," Kgathi was quoted as saying.


The Eritrean government, according to the UN is notorious for punishing anyone who tries to leave without permission. Hence the UNHRC warns against sending back Eritrean refugees, but instead strongly urges international protection for them. Does it occur to the minister that if they are sent back, they could very well be sending the youthful players to their death?


Prominent private lawyer Dick Bayford has been roped in to represent the players and block the government‘s attempt of forcing them to leave the country. Bayford is reported to have served the Office of the President with papers that, state “as required by the Refugees Recognition and Control Act 25:01, Laws of Botswana, the said individuals have to be processed by a Committee established under section 5 (1) (a) of the Act for purposes of considering their application. Their removal from Botswana would in the circumstances be illegal.”


In Eritrea, there is no presidential term and the popularly-elected National Assembly of 150 seats, formed in 1993 shortly after independence, elected the current president, Isaias Afewerki. There have been no general elections since its official rise to power in 1993. They are governed under the constitution of 1993.A new constitution was ratified in 1997, but has not been implemented.

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Sport

GU bills Rollers over player sale

29th September 2020
Thatayaone Ditlhokwe

The mega transfer of one Thatayaone Ditlhokwe from Township Rollers to South Africa’s SuperSport United has left Gaborone United (GU) desperate for the ‘purchase benefits’ and the latter has consistently phoned Rollers to pay back their share for supposedly grooming the player.

Ditlhokwe, a former GU defender, was sold to SuperSport at an estimated fee of P 2 million late last year. When the sale was negotiated, and it was agreed that GU will receive at least 15% of the sale, sources say.

This therefore means Rollers has to pay GU P 300 000.

According to reliable sources, Rollers is yet to process GU’s benefits because SuperSport United is taking long to complete the transfer fee. However, Jagdish Shah, the financer of Rollers, is said to be ready to pay GU’s dues as soon as the time is right.

In any case, it is said the two clubs are fighting a boardroom brawl. Regarded as the fiercest cross town rivals, GU was incensed to lose Ditlhokwe to Rollers in the first place. The underlying scuffle, to date, is catalysed by misplaced documents and trust that has grown seriously thin between the two clubs.

It is said that GU cannot find the contract between Rollers and SuperSport so as to officially bill their claim. Sources put it that GU had written twice to Rollers asking them to forward a copy of the said contract.

In the first instance, it is said that Rollers cooperated and did as GU requested. However, GU is said to have lost the contract and went back to Rollers for another copy. Rollers according to sources then refused to budge. There are claims that GU is now stuck in one place.

Rollers media liaison Phemperetlhe Pheto said it is difficult to talk about contracts to third parties. He however implored GU to avail the contract for them to claim their fees without doubts.

“I am disturbed to talk about contracts of players to media but bear in mind that we cannot act when GU is failing to submit what they have as a proof,” he said.

When Rollers tried to sign Argentinean born gaffer, Rudolph Zapata, three seasons ago, GU fought tooth and nail to block him from joining the ranks of their number one enemy. They delayed to release his work permits accusing him and Rollers of sinister motives.

To this date, GU is livid that Rollers nearly paralyzed their camp when they recruited striker Tumisang Orebonye, defender Jackson Lesole and the very same Ditlhokwe, to offer them lucrative contracts.

Just a year ago, the fight between the two clubs almost took a nasty turn. It started when GU wrote to the Botswana Football Association (BFA) questioning the coaching credentials of Rollers former coach, Frank Nuttall, together with his assistants, Leutwetse Tshireletso and Zachariah Mudzazi. Then, GU was seen to be shifting posts when consistently asked to rectify the situation involving their coach, Pontsho Moloi. It was found out that Moloi was not fit to coach in the elite level according to the requirements of club licensing.

But as things stand, GU will count on the words of Shah, whom many football administrators label as a ‘man of integrity.’

Ditlhokwe signed a three year deal with SuperSport last year. The 22-year-old helped Rollers to lift the Botswana Premier League trophy in the 2018/19 season and was rewarded with a national team call up.

The Botswana international played an important role for his side in the 2019 COSAFA Cup in South Africa as captain, Ditlhokwe also helped Zebras finish 2nd in the tournament losing to Zambia in the final.

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Sport

Molepolole stadium to be refurbished

29th September 2020
Molepolole-stadium

The Ministry of Youth Sport and Culture Development has agreed to refurbish the dilapidated Molepolole Sports Complex.

The development consequently means premier league teams and local clubs will not be able to utilise the facility in the upcoming season.

The stadium with a carrying capacity of 6 600, was earmarked by premier league rookies Masitaoka as home-ground.

The ministry has further revealed that the stadium will need a budget of about 5 million Pula to relay the turf and renovate a water drainage system that has worn out.  The contractors are expected to commence work in the not so distant future.

The pitch surface is artificial and was first installed in 2008 at FIFA’s request and the presidency of Philp Makgalemele.  In 2010, it was chosen as one of two host stadiums for the COSAFA Under-20 Challenge.

“We have funds to refurbish the Molepolole Stadium for two main projects; the relaying of turf and renovation of water reticulation system.  The stadium will therefore be out of   bounds   when   contracted   companies   begin   their works,” the Chairman of Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) confirmed.

The Ministry of sport is further expected to file a communication with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Housing Development notifying them to start a monitoring exercise when the renovations begin.

The reconstruction of this stadium and others is however feared to coincide with the long intention of the government to improve sport infrastructure throughout the country.

Earlier this year, the sport ministry has also requested a budget of about P 33 million to renovate and improve the VIP lounge of Francistown Sport Complex, now known as Obed Chilume stadium.

The President of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Eric Masisi, said the government continues to improve sporting infrastructure as part of the grassroots sport development programme. He said this in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) two years ago.

This financial year, P50 million was allocated for the construction of 10 community sport facilities or mini stadia, around the country.

“These will be basic sport facilities for youth recreation, and will consist of boundary wall, an artificial turf, soccer pitch and changing rooms with ablution facilities,” he said.

The facilities are earmarked for Tonota, Mmadinare, Bobonong, Tutume, Kasane, Goodhope, Kanye, Rakops, Tsabong and Moshupa.

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Sport

Moloi negotiates terms with Masitaoka

29th September 2020

Enterprising midfielder, Dirang Moloi, is in talks with premier league rookies Masitaoka Football Club about possibilities of joining as a free agent, having last played for troubled Extension Gunners last season.

Moloi, touted as the best midfielder of his generation, is said to be ready to hang his boots but not before playing for Masitaoka, the promising outfit whose administration is now the envy of other premier teams, especially the older ones.

However, it appears that there is a stumbling block as Moloi is requesting for conditions that are beyond the club’s reach. Moloi, with a substantial premier league experience, where player wages are not always guaranteed, wants to partner with the club through his side businesses to make profit.

Sources say Moloi does not desperately yearn for a monthly salary, but wants some benefits as the club makes money through other means.

Operating as a football company, Masitaoka has plenty of sponsors and it is why Moloi wants a share of the profits for each replica jersey the team sells. He also wants the club to partner with his security company to further rake in profits rather than waiting on a meagre salary that is not certain especially during turbulent periods of corona virus. This, according to sources may weigh heavily on Masitaoka’s situation that consequently will collapse the talks.

All the while, it is said Moloi will no longer be a first-choice selection but Neslon Olebile, the team’s head coach, hopes that his personality and experience will serve to inspire the rest of the attacking options, most notably the younger players.

Masitaoka have always sought to have leaders in their squad, players who have won big games and can bolster the collective belief. Their hunger to sign Galabgwe Moyana in the next season is rooted in part, by what he could bring away from the field.

Moloi, some reports say may join partly on probation and eventually sign to play as the season goes on, but not to inspire, as he once declared he is about to quit Botswana football.

The club sources however say that there is no option built into the deal for him to join them with non- football conditions.

Masitaoka are however desperate for Moloi’s services and will want him to bring calmness and stability to a side that has begun to dream big. The Molepolole base outfit is eyeing a spot in the finals of Orange FA Cup. Once football resumes, the club will play against Calendar Stars in the quarter finals.

Moloi has won a handful of trophies and medals during his salad days at Mochudi Centre Chiefs and Township Rollers.

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