Saturday, September 25, 2021

Constitutional delinquents and power hungry or just lost in translation?

A robust debate is alleged to have taken place within the Botswana Football Association (BFA) National Executive Committee (NEC) as members finally took the association’s Emergency Committee (EC) to task over its disregard for the constitution.

Concerned with what they felt was the BFA EC’s inclination to usurp power of running football at the exclusion of other NEC members as well as its propensity to take up judicial roles, members allegedly gave the BFA EC a third degree.

The BFA EC is made of the association president and his two vice presidents as well as two other members appointed by the NEC. The committee ‘deals with all matters requiring immediate settlement between two meetings of the NEC’ and its decisions ‘have immediate legal effect.’

Speaking to this publication on condition of anonymity, some BFA NEC members confirmed there was an intense debate when they met but played down allegations that there were heated exchanges.

“Yes, we did take the BFA president and his two vice presidents to task because we wanted the to account. But it was not as people describe it. It was not a mutiny. We were just giving the NEC leadership some advice as we should,” one NEC member explained.

This version was confirmed by another member who described the said meeting as very robust but not in anyway a mutiny. “All I can say is that we finally did what we were voted to do. NEC members came out of the shadows of the BFA EC and found their voice,” said the member.

Among the issues, the members are said to have demanded the BFA EC to explain ‘who amended the BFA presidential term’ and ‘the composition of the BFA NEC.’ They are said to have asked the EC to point out as to when the General Assembly approved the said amendments.

Articles 30.1 of the BFA constitution dictates that ‘the General Assembly is responsible for amending the constitution.’ Article 30.3 indicates that “For a vote on an amendment of the constitution or to the standing orders of the General Assembly to be valid, a majority of at least 75% of the delegates representing the members eligible to vote must be present” while article 30.4 directs that any amendment may be made ‘if at least 75% of the delegates representing the members present and eligible to vote agree to it.’

In the newly amended constitution, the EC has set the term of one serving as BFA president to ‘not more than three terms (whether consecutive or not).’ What surprised the NEC members was that the amendment seems so innocuous that it escaped any scrutiny at the 2020 General Assembly.

“No one was able to pick this change in the constitution despite it having been done in 2019,” an NEC member said. Another member said the surprising thing is that the amendment was done in such a way that it gives one an impression that the term of presidency is two terms, while in fact it sets it at three.

On the issue of the composition of the BFA NEC, members advised the EC that its removal of Sydney Magagane from the NEC as the First Division representative was unconstitutional. Members are said to have informed the EC that while the number of Botswana Football League (BFL) representatives at the BFA GA had been amended to only two (2), no amendment was made regarding BFL representation in the BFA NEC.

“Our contention was that in order for the autonomous BFL to have the rights of a full member with voting rights within the BFA as a special member, the GA only agreed to the amendment of article 12.1.1 for ‘the removal of national league clubs’ to be replaced by ‘special members.’ It also agreed that article 22.1.1.1 and 21.1.1.2 be deleted and be replaced by an article ‘which will allow for two delegates from a special member’ to attend the assembly and have voting rights,” the NEC member explains.

“What has now happened is that the BFA EC has gone beyond that and amended article 33.1.7 and changed the composition of the BFA NEC, which the GA never agreed to. Based on this, they then removed Magagane from the NEC. This we believe is unconstitutional and we are saying the BFA EC usurped the duties of the GA,” the NEC member says.

Still on the matter, members are said to have asked the EC as to who gave them judicial powers to remove fellow NEC member Carlos Sebina from his position in the Medical Committee. Members are said to have been critical of the EC’s decision which they believe is wrong.

“If the BFA NEC believed Sebina had done anything wrong, we have judicial structures and his issue should have been forwarded to them for arbitration. What the EC did instead is that it met and decided on the matter on itself which is very wrong,” a member explains.

“In essence, as members of the BFA NEC, the BFA EC became the plaintiff, judge jury and executioner. They usurped all the roles of judiciary which is wrong,” the member says.

The NEC members are also said to have openly criticised the BFA EC’s tendency to make decisions alone at the exclusion of other members. It is said that members felt the leadership was using the provision of the EC to side-line all other members from decision making.

“Our feeling is that the EC was put in place to deal with matters of emergency only. Now it seems our leadership is using the EC provision to exclude other members. We now want a clear guideline to avoid this,” says the member.

“What surprise us is that even though there has been advancement in technology which allow people to attend meetings virtually, the BFA EC continues to meet and take decisions without members. We believe they should now be able to call a full virtual NEC meeting where members can discuss issues,” another member says.

On the BFA leadership’s response on the matters raised, members say the leadership was devoid on answers and promised to get back to them.

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