Thursday, May 23, 2024

BFL Board finds ‘a common ground’…

On the afternoon of this past Friday 10th February 2023, the Botswana Football League (BFL) board of directors met to discuss issues of concern within the board.

The meeting came exactly a week after some members of the BFL board wrote a letter objecting to board chairman Nicholas Zakhem’s tendency to take ‘unilateral decisions.’ In the letter, the concerned board members say they are ‘representing the interests of the shareholders.’

The letter came on the 03rd February 2023 in the afternoon. This was just a few hours after the BFL Board chairman along with the BFL treasurer Jagdish Shah had announced in the media that there will be prize monies at the end of the current league season. It came in the wake of allegations of a mooted uprising against the BFL board by the shareholders.

At the same meeting, the BFL chairman had announced that he had upended the process of hiring of the new BFL chief executive officer (CEO). He said after the job was announced, at least ten applicants filed expressed interest. Of these, the board picked four who they believed qualified.

“However, the unfortunate part, out of the ten they only came up to analyse the cv of four of them. I looked into the cv personally and I found that the other six deserved a chance because they also had the same thing. When I asked my fellow colleagues at the board why these people are not being given a chance and so on, they suspected they could not find their CVs or whatever the situation is. So, we went back to the exercise and we give it to Pat (Patrik Motsepe) to give everybody an equal chance,” Zakhem told the media.

In their letter to the BFL chairman, the board members ‘express their concern and objection’ to ‘the format of prize money allocation’ and the ‘intention to make a public announcement on the same without Board resolution.’

They also query Zakhem’s ‘unilateral objection to the process of identifying a suitable candidate for the position of chief executive officer.’ They contend that the board ‘had agreed on a methodology of recruiting for the said position’ and that Zakhem ‘halted the process at an advanced stage with no regard to majority position.’

“We have also experienced a litany of decisions by yourself without consultation and / or approval of the board. This letter therefore serves as a demand for you to observe and commit to the principles of good governance and uphold majority decisions at board level,” the concerned board members charged.

Following this past Friday’s meeting, the board informed the media through a press release that it had ‘discussed the working relationship and harmonious dealings within the board.’ “To this end the board found a common ground to move forward for the good of the game,” the press release stated.

In the press release, the board also announced that there will be a press conference on the 16th February 2023 ‘to announce the ABSA Bank partnership.’ It goes on to add that; “Prize money / grants will be revealed at the press conference.”

With the BFL chairman and his board having smoked a peace pipe, it now remains to be seen whether their truce will pacify the shareholders. As it stands, the shareholders have lost confidence in the entire board, which they say has sidelined them.

“As the shareholders, we are not privy to anything that is happening in the BFL. We only get to know what is happening through the media. We are kept far from what is happening. The board and the shareholders are divided,” one chairman said.

He said since the inaugural BFL Annual General Meeting, the shareholders had not heard from the board. “They could not even tell us that the BFL CEO had resigned. We found out in the media like everybody else. We are yet to be told why he resigned. This is what we have to deal with as shareholders.”

The chairman said as shareholders, they are also questioning why the other members of the board waited until there was an uproar before they could raise their concerns against the BFL chairman for taking unilateral decisions. “Where were they all along?” the chairman asked.

What irks them the most is also the BFL chairman’s tendency to avoid being held to account. “He does not want to answer for anything. That is the reason why he decided to close the chairmen’s WhatsApp group. Contrary to what the chairman is alleged to have said, there were no indecent pictures posted in the group. That is a lie. He knows that if we talk through the WhatsApp group, we will know he read the messages and he is ignoring them or refusing to respond. That is why he closed the group,” the chairman pointed out.   He concluded that if the status quo remains, they may call on Botswana Football Association (BFA) to take over the running of the BFL.  

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