The Confederation of African Football (CAF) General Assembly has come and gone, and the stone character of its elections has, once again, produced the same faces that are back again unopposed.
The few challenged positions saw contenders mysteriously withdrawing their candidatures at the eleventh hour. Amongst them Kalusha Bwalya, who had challenged Suketo Patel to the presidency of the Central Region. The Zambian Football Association president later told BBC Sport that he made the decision in the interest of unity in Southern Africa.
“I don’t want to be fighting Mr Patel, because we’re all doing this for the good of football in our region,” Bwalya said. “I am sure my chance will come one day but for now, I’ve decided to stand aside.”
However the CAF executive is alleged to employ underhanded tactics and summon candidates they do not favour behind closed doors and entice them out of the races. The central region includes all Southern African countries.
Ahead of the elections, COSAFA countries were hopeful that Bwalya would oust Patel as they are reportedly not generally happy with his representation in the CAF executive committee. To date, CAF is still blamed for overlooking Southern African referees for regional and world events as they always usually go for those from Francophone countries. CAF still stands accused of treating most referees from Francophone countries with kid gloves despite questionable practices they always apply on Southern African teams, especially when games are played in north or west Africa.
Botswana Football Association’s CEO, Mooketsi Kgotlele, who attended the recent CAF meeting, alongside his President David Fani, the CAF meeting did not bear any fruits. Kgotlele decried the language barrier as the main obstacle in them having a say in the organization’s affairs. He said that the region’s voice remains subdued, adding that even the nature with which the proceedings of the meeting are conducted does not allow them to present an input.
“Often you would stand, and say you are from Botswana and no one would care to give you audience,” he said. Kgotlele added that the region needs to have proper representation in the executive as they are many problems afflicting the members and these need immediate attention. He complained that even in Egypt, where the CAF headquarters are based, the employees are non English speaking and, as such, it is not easy for them to access the office.
“CAF is all about the French boys; we have no place in the organization,” he lamented.
The last time Botswana contested was through Ishmael Bhamjee, who was then the President of COSAFA. He was running against the recently retained unopposed life president, Dr Issa Hayatou, and lost by a wide unprecedented margin. In other countries, governments usually sponsor aspiring citizens as associations do not have enough to lobby for support. In Botswana, it has not happened before and Kgotlele said that, when the day comes, they will engage the government in an attempt to solicit for support. The BFA CEO said they have capable individuals in the association who can represent the region. Currently, he said, there are so many irregularities that need attention. He said that even the presence of SAFA’s president, Molefi Oliphant, had not been of any help to the region.
Oliphant is currently CAF’s Vice president.