When Letshwiti assumed the reins at Lekidi, Botswana’s own football headquarters, an unbridled air of optimism engulfed local football.
Not least because he was seen as the man to heal what was a politically divided football family.
As an astute businessman and a wheeler dealer of repute, Letshwiti would be, as seen back then, bring much needed business expertise to a then financially struggling BFA.
Three years down the line and exactly a year before the elections, local football finds itself even more politically fragmented and still in debt, with sponsors not easily swayed to come on board.
Even with his clean image and reputation, Letshwiti has found himself struggling to bring about change at Lekidi, thus begging the question:, What is it that local football is doing wrong?
“First of all, I think the problem is the process of elections,” veteran Mmegi sports journalist Mqondise Dube opines. “It brings about divisions, factions and politics of patronage which takes football off course,” he explains.
Speaking in an interview, Dube says as long as voters align to factions, quality candidates will continuously be overlooked.
“Obviously, the voter has to go for a quality candidate but that is not possible with the present system,” he explains.
Dube went on: “If you look at Solomon Mantswe in the last campaign, he was discarded, not because he was a poor candidate but because he did not belong to a certain camp. His qualities will therefore be ignored on that basis.”
The Mmegi sports scribe went on to add that appointments for positions in football leadership are based on factional and political patronage, football will suffer.
“A credible candidate will appoint across lines, go for quality at the expense of paying back. As long as the president feels indebted to the people who campaigned for him, sadly the status quo will persist, no matter how much you change guard,” he concluded.
Commenting on the matter, the former BPL Board Member Solomon Ramochotlhwane opines that local football must be astute when voting its leaders.
Ramochotlhwane is of the belief that the manner in which local football elects its leadership has at times proven detrimental to the growth of the sport.
On the calibre of people needed to lead football, the former BPL Board member said integrity should be the first quality.
“Football needs people with integrity to start with,” he explains. “It needs people who have a passion to serve people,” he says.
For Ramochotlhwane, people who vote for leadership should also prioritise going for people with ‘corporate or administration acumen.’
“Ha gona ga go buiwang ka botsala le di cut teng,” (loosely translated ‘nowhere should it include jobs for friends or pay backs) he says.
Speaking on the matter, one of the longest serving local football administrators Leviet Ntwayagae said football needs to rethink how it elects leaders if it wants to grow.
“I am really worried with our election trend as local football. Our football gets captured in the election process,” he says.
Ntwayagae says as it is at the moment, elections are mostly centred around personalities and there are no prerequisites for standing for positions.
“It is sad that we have now resigned ourselves to factions and we let them cloud our judgement. We need to have a set criterion for people we need in positions of leadership,” he adds.
Ntwayagae says there needs to be a qualification benchmark for positions of leadership, saying there needs to be clear ‘job specifications’ which could be used to bring in people with ‘skills which match such specifications.’
He says while electing able people like Letshwiti is great, it is also critical that such people are surrounded by people who not only share their vision, but are also people who have the requisites to serve at his level.
“I would prefer in this instance if such people could be allowed to handpick at least two people of their choice, even those outside of football, for two critical positions in the National Executive Committee,” he says.
“I was one of the people who supported Letshwiti because I knew he could open doors for football. But I believe we should have allowed him to have a team of his choice, or at least two people of his liking to work with him to help him,” he says.
Another point of bother for Ntwayagae is the failure to separate the football secretariat from football politics.
“We need to separate politics from the secretariat,” he says. “When we hire for the secretariat, we should go for quality and qualification over factions. The turnover of Chief Executive Officers (CEO) at the BFA is one of the highest. This is because when a faction gets into power, it changes the CEO,” he explains.
Ntwayagae says under such a dispensation, even the best CEOs who could have been retained end up being cast aside and replaced by lesser qualified factional appointees.
He also questions the recycling of people at the helm, saying football should only ‘recycle people’ if such people are performing very well and add value.
“If we continue doing things as we do, football will continue to suffer,” he concludes.