Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Benefits from Khama’s constituency league initiative remain elusive

Opposition parties have found unlikely allies in Botswana Democratic Party members and the BFA, who have of late joined forces with them and called for the scrapping of President Ian Khama’s constituency league initiative.

In an interview with The Sunday Standard last week, the Botswana Congress Party’s Taolo Lucas and Botswana National Front spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa, unanimously dismissed the constituency league as a hasty political gimmick that has done more harm than good to national football. At the same time, the Minister of Youth Sports and Culture, Gladys Kokorwe, was last week quoted on national television complaining that constituency league players waste money on alcohol instead of developing national football.

The constituency league was introduced by President Khama as a sports development initiative that was also meant to keep unemployed youth off the streets. Even before it gained any momentum, the league pitted Botswana Football Association President David Fani against President Khama and nearly resulted in FIFA imposing sanctions on Botswana.

FIFA abhors government meddling in football administration, and there were fears that Botswana might bear the brunt of the international football body’s wrath.

At the time Fani complained that the constituency league was started without the input and blessing of the BFA. He also lamented that the league has had a detrimental effect on football development as it targets older players who would not necessarily partake in the national league.

Fani complained at the time that the league is detrimental to football development as it lures players from the financially starved BFA structures. He posited that players are attracted by the financial rewards inherent in the constituency league, which enjoys the support and patronage of the insatiable presidential coffers.

Mohwasa said on Friday that the constituency league was never meant to facilitate sports development, but was rather a hasty initiative by the president, aimed at stealing the political limelight from the opposition.

“This was a politically motivated move. If the president was really intent on sports development, he should have given the BFA the mandate to administer the constituency league,” charged Mohwasa.

For his part, BCP Secretary General Taolo Lucas said that the constituency league bears the hallmarks of all of Khama’s initiatives; hasty, impulsive and unplanned.

“There is clear evidence that just like all of his initiatives, the constituency league is also a rushed, haphazard and politically motivated. In this case, political expediency overtook rationale and national interest. In the end, national funds have gone to waste,” he said.

While debating that draft national development plan, Kweneng East MP Mmoloki Raletobana, also pleaded with minister Kokorwe to review the constituency league, saying that it has put a strain on constituency offices, which are now burdened with the responsibility of administering it.

Raletobana also lamented the fact that there is no accountability for the funds that are poured into the constituency league, citing incidents where some players have actually fought for the constituency league funds.

Earlier this year, minister Kokorwe revealed that over P1, 9 million has so far been spent on the constituency league, adding that an additional P2.5 million will be spent before the current financial year elapses. In the past calls have been made for the Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture to provide empirical evidence as to exactly how the constituency league has contributed to football development.


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