Tuesday, March 5, 2024

BMC brawl ÔÇô Playing the man not the ball

The bitter battle for the control of the BMC football team was lost and won on the day BMC acting Chief Executive Officer, Dr Akolang Tombale dissolved the club committee chaired by Sonny Phiri. Ironically it was Phiri who emerged on the victorious side of the dust up and it is Tombale’s blood on the floor
When the hurly burly is done and the battle for the heart and soul of Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) Football Club is finally lost and won, it will be interesting to see which BMC Football Club answers the referees whistle to enter the football pitch.
A mutiny by a group of BMC football Club players and supporters led by team chairman Sonny Phiri against a decision by sole sponsor BMC has split the Lobatse side into two factions touching off one of the most unpredictable and dirtiest power struggles.
The 14 day layoff given to the two sides to resolve their differences has all the hall marks of a murky divorce settlement and all indications are that there is going to be a lot of tears before bedtime.
Like an estranged couple going through a painful separation, both sides have unleashed their dirty tricks departments lending a murky meaning to the hackneyed phrase: Playing the man and not the ball.
Team chairman Sonny Phiri suffered the first rough tackle: On 22nd May in what seemed like an orchestrated attack a group of BMC football supporters petitioned Phiri to step down. The charges against Phiri are many and cut deep into his person. The letter reads in part, “We the undersigned are not pleased in the manner at which you are running the club and request that you resign your post with immediate effect. We would like to bring it to your attention that; at the last Annual General Meeting, we were part and in the majority of the people who voted for you and you have failed to represent us. You have failed to update us on the way forward of the team as stakeholders. The sponsor will stop assisting the team in October and we do not know what the future holds for us. You have consistently threatened us regarding our performance yet we never see you at our training ground to get first hand information on team preparation. We only see you at games and when we lose you lash at us and when we win you do not compliment us. On the foregoing reasons, we the undersigned feel you do not represent us and urge you to resign your post with immediate effect.
The ink on the petition had hardly dried when the BMC Acting Chief Executive Officer, Dr Akolang Tombale joined the bash-Phiri- crusade. In a lengthy wink-wink, nudge – nudge press statement that backed up complaints by Phiri’s petitioners stopping short of accusing Phiri and his committee of fraud and embezzlement of funds, Dr Tombale dissolved the BMC football Club Committee chaired by Phiri “with immediate effect.” As it turns out, Tombale who was trying to assert the BMC’s authority over the football club by closing out Phiri and his committee closed the gate after the horse had already bolted. The battle for the heart and soul of BMC was most likely won on the day Tombale dissolved the committee chaired by Phiri, ironically it is Phiri who emerged on the winning side of the bruising dust-up. After taking such a beating, it is surprising that Phiri was not punch drunk and still in fine form to deliver a sucker punch.
Ever so witty, Phiri pulled a masterstroke that gave him and his supporters a home run. On the same day that Tombale dissolved the committee chaired by Phiri, the committee filed its annual returns with the registrar of societies, naming Phiri as the chairperson of the BMC Football Club. As the power struggle intensified with BMC Executive Manager, Thomas- Mothusi Nobezi writing letters to BMC staff members threatening them with disciplinary action for “frustrating” a “business decision by Botswana Meat Commission to transfer the BMC football club to a private entity” Phiri pulled the ace up his sleeve. The BMC chairperson wrote to the Registrar of Societies, Neo Lepang asking her to intervene and advice on the way forward for BMC Football Club.
Lepang responded by return mail dated 4th September 2013, stating: “ We advise as follows that, in accordance with our records, the Botswana Meat Commission Football Club is part of a society called BMC Welfare Social Club, a duly registered society under the Societies Act with registration certificate No. CR 0383. According to our records, Botswana Meat Commission Welfare Social Club is still a society in terms of the societies Act. The latest Annual returns for the Botswana Meat Commission welfare Social Club in respect of the BMC Football Club filed with the Registrar’s office on the 24/06/13 reveal the office bearers for the current period as follows- Chairperson Sonny Phiri…….
“Further we advise that, a society that has been registered in accordance with the Societies Act, Cap18:01 of the Laws of Botswana, becomes a legal persona, capable of suing and being sued in its name and it receives recognition as a legal entity separate from its members, and how the affairs of a society are to be conducted, including its dissolution has been spelt out succinctly under the Societies Act as read with the Botswana Meat Commission Welfare Social Club’s filed constitution. For all intents and purposes, the management committee of BMC Football Club as per the returns of the 25th June 2013 referred to above remains the lawful management committee until the Registrar is notified otherwise in accordance with the provisions of the Societies Act and its regulations.”
The Registrar’s letter did not only nullify Tombale’s decision to dissolve the committee chaired by Phiri, but it also laid to rest the debate on who owns the BMC Football Club. Contrary to the hitherto popular opinion the BMC is only a sponsor of the football club and not its owner.
With his tail raised, buoyed by the Registrar’s response, Phiri made a dramatic come-back last weekend when he brought his team all dressed in BMC colors to answer the Botswana Football Association fixture alongside another team another BMC team presented by the new owners. This did not only smash the fallacy of a single BMC Football team, but also chalked the highest watermark in the fight for the control of the team.


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