BY BOTLHALE KOOTHUPILE
Embattled Extension Gunners Chairman Tariq Babitseng has called on the Botswana Football Association (BFA) to man up and release the report of the investigation into his alleged mismanagement of contingency funds for the Guinea Bissau match in 2014.
Following five years of constant prodding, Babitseng, who was this week ‘banned from BFA activities,’ said it is now time for the association to come clean and make it known why they are constantly pursuing him.
This past Tuesday, the BFA, through chief executive officer (CEO) Mfolo Mfolo wrote to Extension Gunners informing the team of the resolution the association National Executive Committee (NEC) had taken concerning Babitseng.
In the letter, the BFA CEO informed Gunners that the BFA NEC had resolved that ‘Mr Babitseng shall NOT take part in any of the BFA activities’ and that ‘Extension Gunners FC be taken to the Disciplinary Committee for failure to comply with the decision of the BFA.’
It was the second time the association had sent Gunners a letter concerning the team’s engagement of Babitseng. The first came early in February when the BFA wrote to Gunners ‘reminding them of their obligations as a member’ in regards to their relationship with Babitseng.
“For a long time now, the BFA has always hidden behind the so called minutes of the 2015 BFA Annual General Assembly (AGA) to persecute me and tarnish my name. Meanwhile, they are sitting on a report by a commission sent to investigate my alleged mismanagement of funds and have not even furnished me with it or even called me for a disciplinary hearing,” the embattled Gunners Chairman queried.
“Now, my questions are, if I they truly believe I committed the wrongs they are accusing me of, why can’t they call me for a hearing? Why can’t they release the report of the three-man commission into the alleged mismanagement of the Guinea Bissau match and charge me?” he retorted.
Babitseng says for a long time now, he had hoped the ghosts of his alleged mismanagement of funds would be laid to rest, but now, the allegations are now being constantly used to tarnish his name.
“It is well known that the report of the commission has long been given to the BFA but they are scared to release it. They have not even furnished me with that report up to now. If they genuinely believe they have a case against me, it is now time for them to bring it up and charge me. If they do not have anything to charge me with, then they have to lay this matter to rest,” Babitseng said.
The Gunners chairman also questioned his ban from BFA activities saying he doubts the right procedure was followed.
“How did the BFA National Executive Committee (NEC) ban me from association activities without first calling me to a hearing? Even in the letter announcing my ban, there are no details of what I could have done that warranted a ban. There is absolutely no explanation of what I could have done or if there was any hearing which found me guilty of anything that warranted a ban,” he explained.
Babitseng says contrary to the allegations peddled by the BFA, he was never expelled from the BFA nor banned from association activities as the BFA is constantly alleging.
“To set the record straight, I have never been found guilty of mismanagement of funds and I have never been banned from football. If you look at the minutes of the BFA AGA which they always refer to, they explicitly show I was relieved of my duties as the BFA Vice President Administration,” he explained.
Meanwhile, a source close to Babitseng has confirmed that the Gunners chairman was only relieved of his duties and never expelled or banned from football activities.
“There is no way the BFA could have banned or expelled Babitseng without having hauled him before a Disciplinary Committee. The BFA NEC only voted for him to be relieved from his duties for abdicating his responsibilities while in Guinea Bissau. It was this same decision which was ratified by the BFA AGA,” the source explained.
“In fact, this was clarified when some people sought to stop Babitseng from standing for BFA elections in 2016. The electoral board then ruled that he was not banned and was eligible,” the source said.
On the issue of the three man task team sent to investigate the matter, the official said due to clauses that stipulated that it not be made public, the BFA has deliberately sat on it to castigate Babitseng.
According to the source, the task team, which was led by Thomas Masifhi and had Onalethata Kambai and Bothwell Morei long submitted its final report in April 2015 but it was never released to the public.
“The report has been kept under wraps by the BFA since then and all they do is to quote excerpts from it when they want to mislead people. But they know if they release it, it may exonerate Babitseng and they will never do that,” the source concluded.