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Football titans kiss and make up

Nikola Zakhem and Jagdish Shah

Office of the President (OP) has facilitated a meeting in which Gaborone United investor Nikholas Zakhem and Township Rollers President Jagdish Shah smoked a peace pipe and vowed to work together for the betterment of domestic football, WeekendSport has learnt.

This comes after Shah had committed not to return to the Premier League board when his fall was believed to have been orchestrated by Zakhem almost three years ago.
While a lot of side issues were discussed, sources speaking to this publication indicate that the two business gurus were asked to copy and emulate what Dr Irvin Khoza and Kaizer Motaung are doing to protect and grow the fortunes of South African football.

Khoza is the Chairman of Orlando Pirates and also the leader of Premier Soccer League (PSL) board. Motaung is his assistant and also the founder and Chairman of Kaizer Chiefs.

Maclean Letshwiti, the boss of the Botswana Football Association (BFA) is seen as one instrumental figure who managed to bring the two to the highest office to iron out any lingering differences.

“The two gentlemen were asked to replicate what Khoza and Motaung are doing. They were told to be enemies only in the field of play, but should be partners in the boardroom,” a source says.

It explains why last week both men were requested to lead the transformation phase of professional football with Shah elected as the chairman of the transformational committee and Zakhem becoming his right hand man.

Both Shah and Zakhem are seen as abled minds that can turn around the fortunes of Botswana football having bank rolled their respective teams from way back.

The combination of the two is anticipated to bring more sponsors to football. Alone, Shah brought ABSA and Hollard sponsorship to the game.
Under Shah, Township Rollers has won every cup on offer. Rollers has five (5) Premier League trophies and two (2) Mascom Top 8 titles, all won under the stewardship of Shah.

On the other hand, GU has won two Mascom top 8 cups and has become a swashbuckling force in the Premier League. The club has played competitive African football alongside Supersport United and Orlando Pirates.

Elsewhere, the two business men are friends with the ruling party with Shah sitting in the Central Committee as the Deputy Treasurer.

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Rollers, Somerset at loggerheads

4th August 2020

Township Rollers has reached a dead end on its awe-inspiring attempt to re- register a company meant to run and administer the affairs of the club. In fact, the club buoyed by the recent transformation redress by one Ashford Mamelodi, is eager to fully turn professional.

However, they are faced with a plethora of questions where one shareholder appears to have the keys to the doors which Rollers want to enter. The club management is reported to have requested to meet Somerset Gobuiwang to discuss and map the way forward. Somerset was expelled roughly 6 years ago from the company he alleged found to run the club.

It is indicated that Somerset formed a company called Township Holding (PTY) Ltd, where his shareholding stake is 40 percent. Jagdish Shah was also given 40 percent shares but as fate would have it, Shah ended up being the sole Director of the company with Somerset unceremoniously receiving the boot.

The sacking of Somerset has now opened a can of worms. It is coming to the fore that the now owner of Molepolole City Stars club was not properly consulted. In fact, it should have never happened that the Director be fired without taking into account his stake in the company.

Rollers allegedly tried to register another company but it proved to be a fruitless exercise as Companies and Intellectual Property Authority (CIPA) pointed the club to the previous one. Rollers Chairman, Walter Kgabung together with the club media liaison Phempheretlhe Pheto refused to comment on the matter. Kgabung referred this publication to Pheto while Pheto himself took us back to Kgabung.

Somerset also could not be drawn into discussing the matter, only saying the main issues are with Rollers’ hierarchy. In September 2017, the Mma Masire west based club moved forward to initiate changes in the constitution. The Society has managed to redefine the constitution and add a new clause that ultimately protects the interest of investors and that of the Society.

Clause 22.4 has been added that, ‘‘the club shall adopt a model of sustainability and enable itself to operate without pitfalls.’’ Rollers has also leased the club to Shah for a period of 10 years. Under this model, the business tycoon will be at liberty to inject finances in the club coffers while the Society rents out the team’s properties.

Sources continue to mention that clause 11.4 has also been shaped to; ‘‘give executive committee powers to find an entity or company that can run and administer the affairs of the club.’’

The teams’ developmental path

During the colonial era (Bechuanaland Protectorate) was governed by the British, primarily from the administrative centre of Mafikeng, South Africa. With independence looming in the 1960s, a new capital had to spring up within the confines of Botswana’s borders and Gaborone was selected.

The government’s Public Works Department (PWD) workers, initially based at Lobatse, the transitional administrative centre, founded a football club. What had started as a social football team in 1961, -‘Mighty Tigers’- came to be organized into a football society in Gaborone in 1965, termed ‘Township Rollers Football Club.’

The PWD workers had been charged with building internal roads in Gaborone, then a small town, a ‘Township,’ and in building the roads, the workers used compacting equipment termed ‘Rollers.’
The Township Rollers logo adopted had an outlying design of a map of the early Gaborone roads the club founders built; Queens, Khama Crescent, Botswana Road, Independence Avenue, Kaunda Road, South Ring Road; and the ‘Rollers’ compacting equipment was depicted twice inside the logo, as well as a football and a soccer boot below them.
jackdish shah
The club name, nickname ‘Tse Tala’ (The Blues) and motto ‘Popa Popa ea ipopa’ completed the logo. This original logo, used between 1965 and 2010 is now located at the centre of rebranded logo used over the past 5 years.

Club founders, the likes of Francis van Vuuren, worked with administrators like Mokhutshwane Sekgoma in building a great team around players like Clement ‘Captain Muller’ Muthelesi, Morwalela ‘Pro’ Seema, Mchuu ‘City’ Manyelela and Steering Matsila in the 1970s.

Player-coach Chibazo Kande led Rollers to the national league title in 1979 and 1980, then four titles in a row (1982, 1983, 1984 and 1985, still a national record), with players like Boyo Oris Radipotsane and Persia Diago. After the iconic Chibazo Kande passed away in a car accident, coach Ezekiel Mpofu added another title in 1987. Under administrators like Justice Baleseng Baleseng, Noel Liau and Kgomotso Mogapi, Rollers went further to win more trophies, including the 1995 league title.

But in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Rollers fortunes plummeted. A disturbing trend had begun in the 1980s when BDF XI signed Popa stars including Sehularo ‘The Horse’ Pelekekae and Cocorico Mnese.

Resourced by the State, institutional sides like BDF XI, Mogoditshane Fighters (then an army side that won the league three times in a row under Major David Bright) and Police XI were starting to dominate Botswana club football.

The traditional giants, Township Rollers and Gaborone United were societies who were often cash-strapped and could not offer players permanent jobs like the institutional sides. Rollers and city rivals GU were both relegated in the early 2000s; a similar fate had befallen Mochudi Centre Chiefs in the mid 1990’s.

Rollers, founded as a football society, decided to have new arrangements where a holding company could nominate an investor to work with the society leadership in running the club. The first such Managing Director was Puma Mathware, under whose stewardship Rollers won the First Division in their only season outside the top flight. The ‘Blues’ proceeded to win double- the Super League (now the Premier League) and Coca Cola Cup- in the first season after promotion, 2004-5.

In 2006 the club was handed over to a new Managing Director, Somerset Gobuiwang. Working with the society executive led by the then Chairman David Spencer Mmui, Gobuiwang invested in the team and helped the ‘Blues’ return to their glory days. The club won the 2010 and 2011 league titles, and further silverware including the 2010 Coca Cola Cup and 2012 inaugural Mascom Top 8.

For the first time in Botswana football, a million Pula prize money was available, and match day ticket prices had gone up. Club merchandise also went on sale. This period also saw Rollers having major transfer of players- Moemedi ‘Jomo’ Moatlhaping, Phenyo Mongala, Boitumelo Mafoko, Terrence Mandaza, Mogakolodi ‘Tsotso’ Ngele, and Kabelo Dambe, Mosha Gaolaolwe and Simisane Mathumo- to South African PSL clubs.

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Orapa United renews Johnson’s contract

4th August 2020

Orapa United have finally managed to agree a new deal with their star defender, Mothusi Johnson. The ever impressive defender has previously turned down two offers arguing that they did not represent his worth.

The defender has now signed a two year deal that will see him as one of the top earners at the mining giants. He is believed to have been also offered a signing on fee of over 80 thousand Pula. The 23 year old Zebras player has been a key player since joining from Gaborone United in the 2018/2019 season.

Johnson who made a name for himself was nurtured by Argentinian born coach Rudolf Zapata while at GU. At the end of his two year contract in June this year, Johnson turned down two offers from the team citing that he wants to move abroad but he realized that it will be difficult to find a team outside during the Corona outbreak. Johnson is said to have settled for his team after reports were linking him with Gaborone United, Township Rollers and Jwaneng Galaxy.

“He has gone to his home village since June, and most local teams wanted to sign him but he really wanted to go play outside and his mother has advised him to sign a short contract so that he may realize his dream in a year or two.

He could have signed with Rollers but they could not guarantee him game time so he had to negotiate a short contract with Orapa United who wanted to offer him a 3 to 5 years contract because their offer was very impressive. Remember he doesn’t have an agent and he relies on friends to help market him so it was a tough job for him to look for a team outside during this tough period,’’ said a source close to the player.

For his part, Orapa United Public Relations officer, Kabo William admitted that they have offered the player a new contract to his demands after failing to agree with him previously. “Look Johnson is a player we value and want to keep him, so we offered him an improved deal but I have been away from Orapa so I am not yet sure if he signed but it was a contract that met his demands,” said William

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Sebego, Malesu back in BFA race

4th August 2020

The plot thickens as the Appeals Board of the Botswana Football Association (BFA) overturns the decision of the Electoral Committee in which presidential aspirants Tebogo Sebego and Ookeditse Malesu were vetted out on account of failing integrity test as required by FIFA, the world footballing governing body.

The duo is, therefore, back in the race and is anticipated to draw battle lines with incumbent Maclean Letshwiti. The Appeals Board chaired by Prof. Bojosi Otlhogile argued that reasons brought forward by the Electoral Committee were not thoroughly convincing and in their eyes, did not hold water.

The board also presided over another case in which suspended Extension Gunners Chairman complained that Mac Letshwiti was also not fit to stand as he is conflicted with gambling authority processes. The case was also dismissed. Electoral Committee when vetting out candidates argued that Sebego was charged for a professional misconduct by Law Society sometimes in 2017.

However, Sebego a professional lawyer himself stood firm for his right and successfully convinced the presiding committee that he was indeed charged by was later cleared for any wrong doing. He had attached the letter as a leaving proof. Sebego argued at length how and why the Electoral Committee ignored the letter and went on to pronounce what he labeled a ‘skewed judgment.’

Malesu also demonstrated his intention to dethrone Letshwiti. He brought Kago Mokotedi as his lawyer and the young man successfully tore the Letina judgment apart. Malesu was vetted out on grounds that he was still under investigation by the Director of Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) for allege mishandling of office finances while serving Botswana Karate Association (BOKA) as its president.

He argued that he was shocked by the decision of the Electoral Committee and was not even aware that he was been investigated. The football fraternity is ecstatic that parity has been restored as preparation for the elections now gathers momentum. The BFA is expected to host its elective congress in Francistown on the 22nd of August.

However, the dates remain speculative until the COVID-19 task force sanctions the gathering. It is still prohibited to host a congregation of more than 50 people as CORONA virus run amok.BFA assembly is usually attended by 60 delegates who cast votes. The number is added by those from the National Executive Committee (NEC) and those who will be conducting elections. This means the number will surpass the 50 mark and a plan has to be hatched.

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