The name of Bennett Mamelodi has made headline impacts within the corridors and boardrooms of Lekidi Football Centre throughout this week.
Some football administrators get exasperated at the mention of his name while others rejoice at the thought of his presence within the football corner.
But above everything else, this is a man whose administrative prowess and blunders have long divided football opinion. Ever since his plans to build a Premier League ‘monster’ in 2016 unravelled, he fell down the football terrain after a new regime took over.
But five years on, possibility that Mamelodi might be re-appointed as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the newly registered elite football body called, Botswana Football League (BFL) lingers.
The carefully laid plans to elevate Mamelodi into BFL radar is said to be orchestrated by Chairman Jagdish Shah. It is believed that the Township Rollers man has requested for the re-advertisement of the post so that Mamelodi’s football resume can be assessed and processed.
The first phase of the advertisement was completed last year November and it turns out that the blood brother to Ashford Mamelodi did not throw in his curriculum vitae for reasons best known to him. The football conspiracy between Mamelodi and Jagdish comes afar but their love and hate relationship is credited for catapulting the premier league to greater heights.
During years gone by, Mamelodi is believed to have brought the premier league to a stature worth millions of Pulas. Bringing and nurturing Botswana Telecommunications (BTC), the former and long standing partners of elite football is one thing he is still remembered for.
But his recklessness and his inability to operate by the book has painted his otherwise industrious football knowledge with a black brush.While it is clear that BFL has ran out of options in pursuit of a competent CEO, it is also a devil‘s job to appoint a man whose affair with BFA never experienced a happy ending. Football is a game of emotions, so the adage goes.
They were certainly high when Mamelodi was expelled in 2016 and immediately took his brief case to court for legal redress. Have they let bygones be bygones? This question stands still amid allegations that his way back into Lekidi football offices is carefully crafted.
In Mamelodi, some say the league will profit immensely especially at a time when the struggle to build the baseline amid ravaging corona virus circumstances.
But others fear that this is a man who can manoeuvre the football terrain; a schemer who can overthrow the football regime if not closely monitored.
This is the same strategy that was master-minded by former premier league Chairperson Mike Molefe, and it took off immediately when Mamelodi was first given a six months contract to negotiate more sponsors for the league in April of 2012.
At the time, his salary did not exceed P25 000. In August of the same year, as Mamelodi stamped his authority on the ground, he fired one Setete Phuthego after local auditor, Marzas Company, found out that the former General Manager had abused office and crippled league coffers.
Although, high and file cadre of Botswana Football are not proudly maintaining it, it crops out that there is an under boiling battle to put together a succession plan especially at the premier league.
This surface war of succession, unbeknownst to many, is bringing into open the contradictory faces of the league house: the robust force of grass roots social equality within themselves, versus the tight control by the Chairman and his preferred mates to capture the soul of the elite league.
Mamelodi surfaced on the football spectrum at the turn of the millennium after his brother, Ashford, connected him with the then FIFA representative, Ian Riley. The two would later form a company called Pula Sports Marketing that negotiated sponsor (BTC) on behalf of the league. The company has since liquidated.
Mamelodi is still an employee of premier league champions Jwaneng Galaxy and was not available to give clarity on rumours linking him with the BFL post. As of going to print, Shah has not answered questions as to why the league has re advertised the CEO post but those close to him suggest that the adjudicating committee had not found a fitting administrator hence calling for fresh applications.
Last year, only two names had shown interest. The name of one Harry Koata from Masitaoka together with Olebile Sikwane were shortlisted.
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.
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.
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.