Sitale plays political chess

Neo Masanako BG correspondent
Thursday, 11 October 2018
CHECK MATE…Sitale(R) and Essoh Essis CHECK MATE…Sitale(R) and Essoh Essis

Former  Botswana Chess Federation president Tshepo Sitale  says he has no regrets about the decisions he made at the just ended Africa Chess Confederations (ACC) elections, staged in Batumi Georgia when he pulled out of the continental  presidential race at the last minute.Sitale went to Georgia as a man ready for war. He was  armed and ready to takeover as  African chess president after a rigorous campaigns ahead of the elections and had actually convinced some that he was the right man for the top seat.

However, Sitale pulled a surprise shock when he decided to withdraw from the elections at the eleventh hour and resorted to forming a coalition.This meant that Sitale and camp supported Essoh Essis of Ivory Coast.  That, however, did not stop Lewis Ncube of Zambia from retaining his presidency, winning the vote 23-21.

When speaking to BG  Sport this week, Sitale said that he has no regrets because it was never about him but Africa.  “I took the decision to withdraw because I wanted to unite Africa by simply supporting another presidential candidate. We had to form a coalition and try reducing chances of Ncube retaining the presidency,” Sitale said.

Sitale explained that Ncube had always aligned himself with the new FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich of Russia and when Dvorkovich won the FIDE presidency, it became clearer which side votes will go.“I could not be selfish and refuse to step down, it was in the best interest of Africa and the decision was taken by a team and not me alone,” Sitale explained.

Even though all did not go according to plan, Sitale said he is not lost to ACC but not certain about contesting for the ACC presidency again although he will back any capable horse in his corner.  The biggest lesson he learnt through it all is that campaigning for the top seat does not come easy; by nature, they are very costly and require dedication and time. Sitale and friends spent over half a million pula in his campaign and still it was not enough to cover all bases.

“We had the assistance of few however, the bulk of it was from our very own pockets, unlike the Russians  who are financially stable, we had to work extra hard with our limited resources to convince masses that we also have what it takes to lead Africa,” he said. The former BCF president said he was grateful for the experience because it actually made him understand Africa better. He was able to understand barriers making it hard for Chess to reach greater heights in Africa.

“I have realised that we have five regions in Africa that are totally different from each other with different approaches and mind-sets. This has since sharpened my leadership skills and taught me how to be a team player. I have also learned how to manage different people,” Sitale said.Meanwhile, the newly elected ACC vice president Tshepiso Lopang from Botswana said she has already set the ball rolling.

Her immediate task will be to devise and propose appropriate development strategies for federations. “I will monitor federation strategies periodically and analyse support given to members. I will work with our members and other key stakeholders to enhance results,” she said. Lopang also wishes to take stock on the current chess development situation in Africa collectively with the ACC Board.

She is of the view that development has been stagnant in the continent due to lack of resources and minimum support from the mother body.

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