The Botswana Tennis Association (BTA)’s attempt to “amend” its constitution has opened a can of worms and put the troubled association’s executive committee in a tight spot.
While trying to pull the rug from under its so-called “rogue” affiliates who were alleged to be attempting to take over, the BTA seems to have done the unthinkable and literally “dropped the racquet and the ball”.
In a letter dated October 31, referenced “Constitutional Amendment”, the Registrar of Societies informed the BTA that its attempt to amend its constitution had not been approved.
In the letter, the Registrar said the BTA’s request to amend the constitution was not approved as “the association is not in compliance with the Societies Act 18:01 by failure in submission of annual returns (2015 and 2016) despite being reminded to do so.”
The Registrar also pointed out that “some of the affiliates listed as attendees … are not registered with the Registrar of Societies and some have been deregistered”.
The news of the Registrar’s refusal to allow the constitutional amendment and the reasons put forth have been welcomed by some affiliates, who have always insisted that the BTA was not being run properly.
In a tale of accusations and counter accusations spanning almost more than four years, the so-called “rogue” affiliates have been accusing the Nelson Amanze-led BTA executive committee of abuse of office, maladministration, absence of financial accounts, irregularities at elections and lack of transparency, claims which the BTA president has always denied.
Leading to the current situation which the BTA now find itself in, the disgruntled affiliates have accused Amanze’s executive of using strong-arm tactics to keep control of the BTA.
The accusation stemmed from the BTA’s suspension of its executive committee member Shingirai Muzondiwa, who is also the chairman of Notwane Tennis Club. Muzondiwa, who was deemed as a possible challenger to the BTA presidency, was suspended on June 6, a day after writing the BTA Executive Committee an email detailing his misgivings with the leadership.
Following his suspension, the BTA, during their Ordinary General Meeting, then made constitutional amendments that barred anyone less than 30 years of age from contesting for the presidency of BTA.
Muzondiwa’s suspension and the subsequent ‘constitutional amendment’ drew ire from the disgruntled affiliates, who said it was just a ploy to keep him from challenging Amanze’s favourite candidates for the presidency of the BTA.
“The intention was to prevent newcomers who in the recent years have regularly asked for legal instruments to be respected (BTA Constitution, Societies Act, BNOC and BNSC Regulations) from getting into the BTA Executive Committee by introducing ridiculous age requirements (i.e. minimum age of 30 years)ÔÇöthus preventing the main opponent to Amanze and BTA Secretary Boikobo Gaolebalwe, who is Muzondiwa, from being a candidate to the position of Chair of the Botswana Tennis Association,” a source said at the time.
The disgruntled affiliates also accused the current BTA executive of using “ghost affiliates” to increase the numbers of affiliates who vote for them in elections, thus giving them a mandate to stay in power.
Contacted at the time, Amanze rubbished the allegations, describing them as “just nonsensical” rumours meant to soil the name of the BTA.
“Some of these accusations go as far back as 2012 and have not been proven to be true. An investigation was carried out into the allegations and the very same members who are accusing my executive should have let you know its outcome. Despite their accusations, they did not oppose me when I stood for re-election in 2014 and I believe that shows they are not genuine in what they say,” he explained at the time.
On the then impending amendments of the BTA constitution, Amanze said they were passed by the BTA affiliates to “protect the integrity of the BTA”.
He said when the BTA made the amendment, it was to ensure that “only mature candidates” who could grow the sport were elected to lead the association.
Concerning the suspension of Muzondiwa, the BTA president said he was suspended “for gross misconduct unbecoming of a board member” as well as “bringing the BTA into disrepute”.
For the BTA’s so-called rogue affiliates, the refusal by the Registrar of Societies to give the BTA is a proof that they have been right all along in their accusation of the BTA.
“We have always maintained that the current committee was not doing things accordingly but the BNSC always ignored us. The Registrar’s reasoning for refusal to amend the constitution is a vindication of our long-held grievances,” the source said.
“Over the last decade, the current executive has been using a number of ghost clubs (both non-existent on the ground (non active) and not registered with the Registrar of Societies) which only come out of their hat to vote at every election which we have always insisted were rigged,” the source continued.
The source said as things stand, the BTA is now faced with an executive committee that has overstayed in office.