A “chance meeting” between Botswana Football Association (BFA) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Kitso Kemoeng and one of the association’s former officials Tariq Babitseng, is said to have sped up the former’s suspension.
The alleged meeting is said to have happened a week prior to Kemoeng’s suspension during the launch of the Debswana First Division League at the Francistown Sports Complex.
Kemoeng was always said to be heading for the exit as the new regime swept away president Tebogo Sebego’s order.
Although the BFA has opted to keep mum on the issues surrounding his suspension, sources within the BFA have revealed to Sunday Standard that Kemoeng’s perceived “close ties and favouritism” to the past regime were to blame.
“The members of the new regime believe that Kemoeng actively campaigned for Sebego during the BFA elections. Some of the decisions he took prior to the elections made him vulnerable to being singled out for removal from office when the new regime took the reins,” a source revealed.
Among the issues that put Kemoeng under the spotlight was his handling of the issue involving one Keitumetse Dijeng, the launch of the Debswana First Division league as well “his handling of the referees” crisis. The first two issues of Dijeng and the First Division launch are also said to have put two other known Sebego sympathisers – First Division North (FDN) Chairperson Mpezeni Sambandawe and his Secretary General Rapula Gaothobogwe – on a collision course with the new regime, and they have since received letters to explain.
Prior to the elections, Sambandawe and Gaothobogwe are said to have “altered the names of the BFA elective Annual General Assembly (AGA) delegates.” The two were alleged to have at the time removed the name of Dijeng, who is pro new regime, from the list of BFA AGA delegates, replacing her with Mompati Ketlogetswe.
In the aftermath of such a removal, Dijeng, together with Eatametse Olopeng and Ookeditse Malesu appealed to the BFA Secretariat. Their appeal was, however, referred back to the FDN by Kemoeng, who at the time said it should be resolved by the regional structure.
The matter was, however, not forgotten by the new regime and it ensured that Kemoeng, together with Sambandawe and Gaothobogwe are called to answer.
“During one BFA National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting, Kemoeng exchanged words with BFA Vice President Segolame Ramotlhwa over the issue of Dijeng. Ramotlhwa nagged Kemoeng about the Dijeng matter and Kemoeng lost his cool, rhetorically asking Ramotlhwa ‘who Dijeng is.’ This prompted an exchange during which Ramotlhwa accused Kemoeng of disrespecting him,” a source explained.
However, according to the source, it was the appearance of Babitseng at the launch of the Debswana First Division League that stoked the fires and led to Kemoeng being suspended and Sambandawe and Gaothobogwe being served with letters to explain why action should not be taken against them.
At the launch, Babitseng is rumoured to have exchanged words with some pro-regime individuals, something which Babitseng himself has not denied. The situation was worsened by the non-invitation of the BFA NEC to the launch, something which is said to have caused the new regime to believe this was a deliberate snub as only pro Sebego people were invited. To make matters worse, Babitseng is said to have exchanged some words with pro-regime members, something which riled the BFA leadership and thus hastened Kemoeng’s suspension.
In the aftermath of the launch, the BFA leadership is said to have convened a meeting where they then decided to slap Kemoeng with a suspension.
“The BFA NEC felt that what happened at Francistown with the launch of the First Division was a slight and showed disrespect for the NEC by Kemoeng as well as Sambandawe and Gaothobogwe, hence the decision to either suspend or serve them letters to explain why action should not be taken against them,” the source concluded.
According to the source, the fact that Kemoeng’s letter of suspension, which came a week after the launch, made him aware of “careful consideration of recent occurrences,” points directly to the Debswana First Division launch, says the source.
“You also have to remember that when he (Kemoeng) went to the launch, it was also at the same time that the referees did not show up for league games. While there was little Kemoeng could have done to ensure referees show up, rather than process their payments, something which he did, the regime, whether rightly or wrongly believe he should have done more to resolve the matter. They are blaming him for the non-appearance of referees at games,” the source said.
Reached for comment, Kemoeng declined to shed light on the issue as it is still in the hands of the BFA NEC. The same also was the case with Gaothobogwe, who though confirming he had been served with a letter by the BFA, refused to comment any further. Sambandawe’s mobile phone, on the other hand, rang unanswered and he could not be reached for comment at the time of going to press.