The Dutch philosopher Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus once said: “In the land of the blind, one-eyed man is king.” For the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA), this saying or proverb may hold more sway.
In a short space of time, the BAA may go for its umpteenth election after another successful “purge of its committee”. For close to seven years now, the BAA has never had an elected committee finishing its mandate.
For those not in the know, it all started at a contested elective Annual General Meeting (AGM) in 2010 at Gantsi, which elected the then incumbent BAA president Moses Bantsi to lead the association.
The elections were, however, contested with some affiliates querying the outcome. Bantsi’s reign then came to an abrupt end as together with his committee, they were successfully deposed from the BAA office.
His replacement was Thari Mooketsi, who had way back in 2009 led a motion of no confidence on the then Bantsi-led BAA executive committee. Mooketsi’s reign at the helm of the BAA was to say the least, very chaotic.
Despite surviving countless motions of no confidence, Mooketsi was eventually pushed out following a mass resignation of his committee members.
In the aftermath of the resignation, Bantsi was recalled to lead the BAA and went on to win a fresh four-year mandate to lead the association in 2015.
Bantsi’s reign was once again dogged by incessant infightings, with one of the BAA affiliates instigating a legal challenge on the legality of his election.
Barely two years into his four-year reign, Bantsi and his committee jumped ship and the BAA is set for a new elective Special General Meeting. While the date is still mooted, according to sources close to the ins and outs at BAA, Mooketsi is likely to ascend the BAA presidency seat once again.
Asked what could be behind the incessant purges at the BAA, a source close to the troubled association highlighted that power struggles within the association as well as fights over trips were the main problems.
The source revealed that with the BAA, there is always a policy of divide and rule practiced within the association, with a few people always inciting disturbances in a bid to ascend to the BAA executive committee positions.
“For those outside the BAA, things looked calm. For those inside, it was always a struggle to close the lid on the ambitions of members and this has been going on for a long time.
“When the then vice president Glody Dube resigned, there was a jostle for positions in the executive committee. However, when the then Public Relations Officer (PRO) Roland Masalila was elevated to the position and Tlhalefang Charles co-opted as the PRO, everything went south,” the source said.
According to the source, what is even more troubling is that it is always the same clubs or same people who start the problems and lead others astray.
“The very same people will then contend elections and if they lose, they will find a way to start chaos all over again,” said the source.
“If we put it in proper perspective, those in the outside who feel they want to be in the inside will do anything to undermine the incumbents. But they are also helped by those inside the committee who, when they want to ascend higher positions, then tend to use those outside the committee to destabilise it,” the source said.
Another contentious point is the issue of trips with athletics teams. While the issue has been muted for some time, it is said that some members are of the view that they are never given a chance to travel with the teams despite their input in producing athletes.
According to the source, the BAA is incapable of running itself and it is now up to the Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) to take charge.
“I think if the BAA does not hold elections by April 1, the BNSC should take over as even now there are still infightings despite there being no committee. The problem now is that some people feel there should be elections for only four vacant seats in the executive, which will be unconstitutional and will put the association in further trouble.
“If the BAA cannot administer itself, the BNSC should do what it did with Botswana Motorsport, which is appoint its own administrators to run the association on behalf of the affiliates,” the source concluded.