Botswana National Front (BNF) President Advocate Duma Boko has finally briefed his National Executive Committee about his intentions to fund the party’s upcoming conference in Rakops Village next month.
BNF Secretary General Moeti Mohwasa revealed on Wednesday this week. He said the president briefed them during a central committee meeting on Tuesday. The BNF leader had written a letter to regions revealing that he intends to fund the conference by transporting and feeding delegates while at the conference. The BNF conference is hosted by North Central Region and will be held in Rakops village from 14th to 17th of July 2018. Advocate Boko has declined to reveal the source of the funds.
He explained that as opposition they have to protect their funders because ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) might come for them and harass them. He said he always gets funds from his personal friends and has never used the BNF or Umbrella for Democratic Change names to source funding from his friends locally and internationally. He said all BNF Central Committee members should be fundraisers.
BNF Treasurer Noah Salakae would not be drawn into discussing the matter with the media. He said the issue of the conference is handled by party Secretary General Moeti Mohwasa. “Mohwasa is the one dealing with the matter. Myself would be just waiting for him to give me a report to tell me how much they would need for the conference then I can release such funds,” said Salakae. Salakae who is also Member of Parliament for Ghanzi North said preparations are however progressing well for the conference.
Mohwasa told the media on Wednesday that Advocate Boko briefed the central committee about his intentions.
According to Mohwasa all those who would have been selected at ward level to attend the conference would have to register with office of the secretary general. He said this would make it easy to know how many people would be in need of transport to the conference. He said a party they would not rely entirely on the president’s gesture but would have to also contribute because the conference is “a party activity”. “Anyone is free to assist anyway they can to fund any party activity. There is nothing wrong with what the president is doing as long as he has declared. At times it does not have to going through the Treasurer.
The aim is to have a successful conference where resolutions would be made. This is decisive conference because we are going for general election next year,” Mohwasa stated. He indicated that at this point they would not state their budget for the conference because preparations are still ongoing. He said this would only be know during the conference and after because of some of the matters that may arise.
In the letter seen by this publication, which Boko has copied to Mohwasa, he called on the regions to prepare well in time so that a proper account for logistics could be made. Boko wrote, “my intention is to provide transportation for all the delegates to the conference and to feed them while there without them having to spend anything. This will relieve the pressure on the delegates themselves as well as the local leadership. It will also ensure that we get maximum attendance at the conference as we position ourselves for the upcoming National Elections.”
Observers say that by disqualifying requests for a special congress, the national executive committee of Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), is setting a precedent which may come back some day to haunt it.
At its meeting of August 13 the NEC rejected calls for a special congress on the basis that the letters from the constituencies did not comply with the constitutional requirements of the five-year old splinter party of the Botswana Democratic Party. In fact, the more cynical observers say that the party's NEC is being downright hypocritical. The BMD constitution stipulates that a special congress can be called either by the party leadership or by a third of the constituencies. In this case, 19 constituencies have applied satisfying the constitutional requirement of the party, but the NEC rejected the letters saying they were not the outcome of branch congresses and further that the letters had no minutes attached to them.
“In as much as nobody wants a situation where a constitution is breached willy-nilly at the risk of bringing anarchy into the organisation, it is hypocritical of the party leadership to suddenly require such high standards from its members who may be genuinely in support of a special congress. The reality on the ground is that, structures at the lower levels of any organisation, especially in our local politics where resources are always in short supply, may not be able to satisfy some of the demands such as the ones being made by the BMD leadership,” said political commentator, Anthony Morima.
He believes that in politics, political solutions should sometimes take precedence over legal and technical ones. “The leadership should have acknowledged the fact that the party is experiencing a serious problem which needs instant solution. By rejecting the application letters as they did, the BMD NEC is only postponing the problem. They should have found a solution,” noted Morima. “You cannot demand such high standards from wards and branches when you know you have done very little if anything to capacitate them regarding all the requirements and processes involved in applying for a special congress. Matters are not helped by the fact that the party does not supply them with stationery let alone office space. If the branches are not able to produce proper minutes, that is an indictment on the NEC as that shows that it has failed to give the structures the needed training,” added Morima in an interview.
He wondered whether the party leadership is being consistent. “It is doubtful if all the BMD gatherings such as congresses and conferences held in the past have been held strictly according to the law,” said Morima who suspects that those who don’t want a special congress have ulterior motives. “They find themselves having to clutch at all straws,” he said.For his part, political science lecturer at the University of Botswana (UB), Professor Zibani Maundeni believes that, people tend to look for loopholes and pay more attention to detail when there is an issue in which their own interests are at stake. “Those who draft constitutions would do well to look at the environment in which the constitution is going to be applied,” said Professor Maundeni who, like Morima, doubts the fairness of expecting cadres at the lower branches to meet certain requirements especially when they have not been trained.
“Under the circumstances, the two factions should come together and discuss their problems or invite a mediator. It is clear that there are people who will find every excuse to stop the holding of a special congress,” noted Maundeni. Contacted for comment, the vice president of BMD, Wynter Mmolotsi confirmed that the party has agreed to go back to the drawing boards on the matter. “There were two interpretations of the constitution. One interpretation says that the branches, through their committees may call a national special congress without having held a congress themselves at branch level. The other interpretation is that, the branches must hold a special congress from which minutes and list of those who attended are attached to the letters applying for the special congress,” said Mmolotsi.
As far as he can remember, the BMD has held three congresses in its five years of existence. “These congresses elected our leadership without the requirement of minutes from branches. Does that make our NEC illegitimate?” he wondered. Nehemiah Modubule, who opposes the calling of a special congress, however differs with Mmolotsi. “Those were ordinary congresses which are normally handled by the secretary general. In the case of a special congress, there has to be evidence of who is calling it hence the minutes and other records are required to verify that indeed there are people who want a congress,” said Modubule who maintains that the lower party structures of the BMD are capacitated enough to apply for a special congress as per party guidelines.
Mmolotsi however disagrees. “There is no need for a branch congress. The branch committees are the ones empowered by the constitution to initiate a special congress. The committee can facilitate the selection of the delegates and the constitution does not require any minutes,” he said.
The Botswana Premier League (BPL) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Bennett Mamelodi has returned to Lekidi after his controversial suspension was lifted this week.
His return to the BPL secretariat signals the end of a court case that pitted him against his erstwhile superiors - the recently dissolved BPL board, which was chaired by Rapula Okaile. The BPL board was recently dissolved for undermining and defying instructions from Botswana Football Association (BFA) National Executive Committee (NEC). This week, BFA president Tebogo Sebego confirmed that Mamelodi’s suspension has been lifted. “Mamelodi is back in office and there is a backlog of issues that he has to urgently deal with like club licensing, disbursement of last season’s club prize monies,” said Sebego who has long supported the BPL CEO’s return.
One of the issues Mamelodi is expected to deal with is drawing fixtures of next season’s games. Earlier this week, sources close to the BFA revealed that Sebego and the association’s CEO Kitso Kemoeng met with the league sponsors, beMOBILE on Tuesday to iron out pending issues in a bid to pave way for next season.
Mamelodi’s return to office coincides with the elective BFA Annual General Assembly (AGA) scheduled for August 13th. The AGA is also expected to have a bearing on whether Mamelodi stays at Lekidi or not. It will also decide whether the BPL should be run by a board of club chairmen or a management committee made up of independent professionals.
Should the AGA pass the motion that calls for the league affairs being run by a management committee, this will mean the end of a legal tussle between Mamelodi and the dissolved BPL board which will be dealt with once and for all.
The BPL board previously incensed the BFA NEC after they refused to lift Mamelodi’s suspension following allegations of maladministration. After Mamelodi dragged the BPL board to court, the BFA refused to give the semi autonomous body power of attorney to challenge the former.
Meanwhile, in the absence of any interference from the BPL board, the association lifted Mamelodi’s suspension with immediate effect and he resumed his duties yesterday [Wednesday]. This means all charges against Mamelodi will eventually be dropped.
Initially some of Mamelodi’s office equipment was seized by law enforcement officers including his cell phones. However, by press time it was not clear whether these items had been returned to him.
The storybook of the Botswana Premier League (BPL) reads like that of Mafia operatives hellbent on getting whatever they want no matter how irrational and illogical.
The book chronicles a tale of lies, deceit, fabrication, self-aggrandisement and divisions - as well as a trace of personal vendettas and quests to settle old scores. The inevitable result has been a failure to focus and account prudently for the money that has been pouring into the league.
Now the blame game has taken centre stage, with one dominant faction of the BPL Board of Governors pushing for the permanent removal of their CEO, and the minority muted in their defence of the beleaguered officer whom they feel is a victim of a witch-hunt. At the heart of everything that has been happening there lately, is the guised fight for power; the battle for control and an ultimate desire to be in charge of the close to P25 million that the premier league churns annually. All else, really, is secondary.
Just as the attention of local football lovers was glued on the ensuing photo finish rush for the beMOBILE Premiership crown between Orapa United, Township Rollers and Mochudi Centre Chiefs, the league gurus on the other hand mastered a grand plan to divert attention to courtroom and boardroom issues.
This past weekend, a meeting of 12 BPL club chairpersons – there are 16 in total - who constitute the league board resolved to recall board chairperson Walter Kgabung, his deputy Solomon Mantswe as well as to suspend the league’s Chief Executive Officer Bennett Mamelodi. The bone of contention is that the CEO has failed to account for what is presumed to be missing funds, with Kgabung and Mantswe seen as accessories to the ‘crime’ as they have failed to supervise the operations at the Secretariat. There is no clarity as to why the CEO’s Personal Assistant was also suspended.
As is always the case where self-serving tendencies floursih, the involved parties are clutching at straws, and those in charge are refusing to go on record regarding their deeds – of course under the pretext that the matter of the suspensions is sensitive and was still to be discussed at a BFA NEC meeting that was scheduled for Wednesday evening this week. It is thus remained unclear at press time what the real issues are.
On the one hand however, is the story of a P6.2 million deficit that is being bandied around as the cause of Mamelodi’s suspension. There was a board meeting on March 5 where the CEO presented the financials of the BPL, and those close to the trigger-happy side of the board members say he failed to account for that P6.2 million. Yet another submission from within the polarised board says there is confusion of issues as that sum only represents the outstanding funds that are yet to be credited into the BPL in the form of P4.2 million in prize money from sponsors BTCL and about P2 million from Mascom.
There is also no clarity as to who to blame for the BPL’s reported overspending this season, with reports that it was once again the CEO who failed to plan for the year properly. Yet those sympathetic to the beleaguered Mamelodi argue that the said board members are just desperately trying to discredit a blameless man even when they know what actually is the cause of the league’s financial problems. They cite the unexpected turn of events where BURS, the taxman, held the BPL at ransom over an outstanding tax amount of close to P2million carried from previous years.
The BPL, on striking an P8million broadcast deal with the Department of Broadcasting Services, were told they would not get a tax clearance certificate needed by the government broadcaster until they had paid the tax in question. The football body is registered for tax, and the outstanding money was eventually debited from the broadcast stipend, which left the BPL with lesser money than they had budgeted for.
In addition, BG Sports has learnt that clubs themselves refused to have their monthly grants paid less tax, saying the BPL office had to be the one to bear the tax liability. The clubs insisted on getting strictly P50 000 per month, nothing less. Each club has since received P250 000 in grant money for the first five months until December, with the tax liability left for the BPL office to sort out. This too, reportedly dug from the BPL coffers, leading to lesser money at the office than had been anticipated. The dominant section of the board maintains the CEO is to blame for failure to budget properly while others feel it is an unfair accusation given the prevailing circumstances.
There is also the issue of Mamelodi reportedly getting a P900 000 loan from businessman Jagdish Shah to assist indebted teams with grants against their prize money, something the board says constitutes conflict of interest. Shah is an investor in Township Rollers and the concerned board members feel that the move could be the one influencing decisions at the BPL that go against protesting opponents such as Chiefs and Gilport Lions in the famed Ofentse Nato case. BG Sport has however established that the benefitting teams - Motlakase Power Dynamos, Green Lovers and Sankoyo Bushbucks - are the ones who directly sought such loans from Shah.
Sources close to the three clubs also questioned the figure of P900 000, saying they have only received a total of P200 000 from the businessman. “I know a different story to that one of P900 000,” a source told BG Sport, adding: “Sankoyo and Lovers each asked for P50 000 while Motlakase requested a P100 000 loan. I understand Jagdish then told the clubs that he needed assurance that he would get his money back after one club failed to pay him back last season. That’s when the teams approached the BPL for assistance through providing surety against their prize money which will come at the end of the league.” An official from one of these three clubs confirmed their loan deal and wondered why it was made an issue this time when other teams have been doing that over the years. “I know Letlapeng also had a similar arrangement with Shah last season while Miscellaneous was helped by Nicolas Zackem. It’s difficult to understand what people are on about,” he said.
Shah himself has rubbished claims of a P900 000 loan to the BPL. Instead, he confirmed lending the three clubs a total sum of P200 000 and seeking surety from the BPL before the transaction could be done. This Shah had to do after reports say relegated Letlapeng are yet to pay him back after he had lent them money last season.
For now the BPL CEO remains suspended despite the mother body setting aside the Saturday decisions of the board until both parties have furnished reports as to what really led to the weekend decisions. On Thursday, the BPL offices were a beehive of activity as investigation agents reportedly from the DCEC and Botswana Police Services confiscated computers and cellphones of some BPL employees. Kgabung and Mamelodi were also taken for questioning.
With the BPL board saying they will in the meantime be carrying out a forensic audit at the BPL office, it will be interesting to see if the audit will also extend to the clubs that consume about 80-85 percent of the league’s annual income. Only about 20 percent is used for the Secretariat’s operations. On an annual basis, Mascom pumps in P5million into the league, DBS pours P8million while BTCL bleeds P10million. The bulk of this money, directly and by extension, goes to club related expenses such as prize money, grants, referees’ transport and accommodation, emergency medicals services, ticketing, as well as official and player accreditations among others. With crowds having been good this season, the clubs should have also made a lot of money from gatetakings. The BFA should thus ensure this audit covers every aspect of the BPL finances, both at club and Secretariat level – just to help determine how money is used by the league and to determine who really is fooling who.
Whatever the truth is regarding these stories, it begs the question why it took this long for the BPL to raise these financial queries when all along there were board meetings where there are always financial updates. There is also no official answer as to why, for the first time, the weekend board meeting was held without the CEO who reportedly was in South Africa for a funeral. The first time the board raised alarm was at the March 5 meeting where the CEO was in attendance, and that was the perfect time to question him ahead of a follow-up suspension then. The CEO, who once resigned out of frustration before being begged to return, has never had a healthy relationship with the board and other people involved in the prevailing allegations, and it remains difficult to know the extent to which the sour relationships may be playing a part in his suspension. The allegations against him misappropriating funds come a long way back, yet the board still gave him a new contract last November to continue running the affairs of the league. There remains more questions than answers in this saga, and the BFA leadership had better expedite conclusions on the matter lest the premier league programme be thrown into chaos.