Uncertainty abounds within the local sports federations as they await a decision from the newly appointed Minister of Sports Tumiso Rakgare on whether or not the proposed merger of Botswana’s two overarching sports mother bodies will continue.
It is alleged that when Rakgare’s predecessor Tshekedi Khama left office, talks of merging the Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) and Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) were at an advanced stage.
According to sources, whilst in office, the former Minister set on motion the wheels for the merger of the two overarching sports bodies and a decision was expected in 2020 next year.
As a result of Khama’s keenness to see through the project, a committee made up of officials from the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development (MYSC), BNSC and BNOC was formed to spearhead the potential merger.
“The committee went on a benchmarking process to see how best the merger could be done,” the source revealed.
The source went on to reveal that as part of the process, the committee went to countries which have successfully merged their sports bodies for benchmarking purposes.
The committee is alleged to have among others visited the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC), German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB) and Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Confederation of Sports (NIF) as well as visits to Serbia and Singapore.
It is believed that after the extensive benchmarking exercise, the committee handed its report to Khama for his consideration.
However, with Khama the source said it is now the responsibility of the newly appointed Rakgare to make a decision on the matter.
“If Khama was still at the helm, we would know where the issue of the merger stands. Now it will be Rakgare’s responsibility to decide the feasibility of the merger,” said the source.
As it stands, the source said there is uncertainty as to what the newly appointed Rakgare will decide regarding the merger.
“With issues like this one, there are always political considerations and one never knows what will transpire,” the source said.
While uncertainty abounds, affiliates of the BNOC have called for a fast conclusion to the merger talks of the two overarching sports bodies.
Speaking during the recent BNOC Annual General Meeting (AGM), the affiliates said an immediate decision has to be taken to clear off any uncertainties.
Commenting on the matter, Botswana Boxing Association (BoBA) president Dr Thato Patlakwe said as affiliates, ‘they are confused as to what is happening with regards to the merger.’
He said the uncertainty over the impending merger was affecting sporting codes, adding that ‘if it is not expedited, it will affect them even more.’
Patlakwe said the merger was of national interest, saying if decision on the merger is not taken, it will not only affect Olympic qualification but all sports related activities.
The same sentiments were shared by the Botswana Basketball Association (BBA) president Boineelo Hardy.
Hardy said as sporting codes, they are wondering what could be a point of border or problems which are delaying the decision.
She went on to say if the decision on the merger is held up, ‘everything else will continue to suffer.’
Their comments came after the BNOC had informed its affiliates that it had put on hold some of its plans while awaiting MYSC’s decision on the merger.
In his address to the affiliates at the AGM, BNOC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tuelo Serufho had alluded that the Olympic Committee had put on hold its constitutional review while waiting for the Minister’s decision.
At the time when it was put on hold, the process of the revision of the BNOC constitution was said to have been at its tail end.
Serufho said the reasons were that it would be a waste of resources if the BNOC continued with the constitutional review, only for the Minister to give the merger a go ahead.
“A position on whether or not MYSC will follow through their intention to merge the BNOC and BNSC has to precede the finalisation of the BNOC constitution, as otherwise there is a risk that it would have to be revised within a few months of the conclusion of the current review,” the BNOC CEO explained.
Another plan which has been put on hold while awaiting the decision on the merger is the restructuring of the BNOC Secretariat.
In his address to the affiliates, Serufho had informed them that the Olympic Committee ‘has made a deliberate decision not to fill up some positions due to the anticipated BNOC/BNSC merger.’
“Five year staff contracts from 2014 concluded in August 2019 and all contracts were extended for one (1) year to July 2020,” he explained.
While attempts to get the BNOC CEO to comment on when the merger between the Olympic Committee and BNSC failed as ‘it was not his remit,’ sources say under Khama, expectation was that the decision on the merger would have been taken before July of next year.
For now, the local sports fraternity will continue to live in uncertainty over the issue while awaiting to see what minister Rakgare has decided.