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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

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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Sport

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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A trip of a lifetime

25th December 2022

MultiChoice Botswana rewards Francistown branch Customer Service Agent an all-expense paid trip to the FIFA Qatar World Cup

With the just ended excitement of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, MultiChoice Botswana helped to make a few of their employees’ dreams come true with an all-expense paid trip to the most celebrated football event in the world.  Tebogo Marks, a Customer Service Representative employed at the MultiChoice Botswana Francistown Branch, was one of the few selected to win an all-expenses paid trip to the FIFA World Cup in Qatar alongside other top performing members of the pay-TV’s direct and indirect network of employees.

Marks was selected to attend this once-in-a-lifetime event, based on the outstanding performance she displayed over the years as a Customer Service Representative, since joining the brand in 2018. Tebogo Marks’ role entails assisting potential and existing customers with understanding the products and services offered by MultiChoice, promoting and selling DStv content and hardware, solving technical problems that customers maybe experiencing and handling general customer queries and complaints.

Having to deal with an array of distinct customers at MultiChoice Botswana, Tebogo leaves no stone unturned as she ensures that she gives the best service to her clients. “I have made a choice that helping people is part of who I am. As a result I am always looking for solutions to make my customers happy. In everything I do at work, I go an extra mile to elevate the MultiChoice Botswana brand. I believe in helping the customer in a timely manner as I need to show that I value them, even if it means helping a customer at odd hours. For me it doesn’t matter because my aim is to represent my organization well, but most importantly, to give customers a memorable experience,” noted Tebogo.

Bursting in excitement and enthusiasm Tebogo Marks, recalls the highlights of being selected as the winner of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 trip courtesy of her employer, “The moment for me was surreal and I could not believe it, the selection of the competition was based on work competency and job satisfaction. Over the years, my dedication to my work, my ability to exceed customer service expectations and, most importantly, my active driving of internal activities for MultiChoice Botswana won me the trip to Qatar,” she adds. The selection of Tebogo Marks to attend the World Cup games in Qatar was also largely driven by her commitment to pushing MultiChoice Botswana’s JIKA Campaign. The JIKA Campaign, a customer-service focused campaign which looks at educating peers and external stakeholders on the business’ digital self-service options, was heavily dominated by Marks’ efforts and initiatives.

“It was a pleasure to be in Qatar, MultiChoice Botswana had made everything possible for the trip to take place. My employer went all out in making sure that we were comfortable and that we thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience during my short stay at Qatar. What was more exciting was being in the stadium and watching the live game of Ghana and Portugal. It was a heart-warming experience seeing Cristiano Ronaldo live. This was an experience I will never forget,” shared Tebogo.

“We are so sad to see the FIFA World Cup end but we are so glad that we were able to treat those that make it possible for Batswana to experience such amazing sport and entertainment on DStv daily, our employees, with the experience of seeing the games live in Qatar,” says Stephanie Pillay, MultiChoice Botswana Managing Director. “For us, our employees are truly at the core of everything we do. Without them, none of the magic we make through bringing the best in entertainment to our subscribers would be possible.”

Though the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 has ended, MultiChoice Botswana is committed to bringing more world-class sport and entertainment on DStv and Showmax this festive season and always. For more information visit www.dstv.com/en-bw or download the MyDStv App on Apple Ios and Google Play stores.

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