Saturday, May 21, 2022

Did the financial rot at BFA precede Taylor’s arrival?

As Mfolo Mfolo is being readied to succeed his successor Goabaone Taylor as the Botswana Football Association (BFA) Chief Executive Officer (CEO), questions still linger as to whether the latter was wholly responsible for the financial mess at the association.

While she has already taken the fall, details from a Disciplinary Hearing against her seem to point that the rot at the association may have preceded her. This stance, which was maintained by Taylor seems to be corroborated, to an extent, by the acting Finance Manager Ketlhapile Segaise.

Testifying for the association, Segaise pointed out that when she rejoined the BFA, she undertook a reconciliation of the association accounts after she ‘realised that the association expenditure was not monitored and traced to individual votes.’

“I did the recon in July 2021 for the period Jan – July 2021. That recon showed that we had exhausted our budget and we were tapping into projects funds since May 2021. I shared the report with the Finance Manager Mr Thabiso.”

“We continued paying salaries from the FIFA funds account from July onwards and over expenditure continued. I was of the belief that the CEO was aware and even the NEC was informed about the situation. My reasons were that Thabiso Kebotsamang had the report and believed he reported further to his supervisor. Thabiso informed that he got feedback from the CEO who requested that I should give a breakdown of the figures reported,” she informed the hearing team.

Tellingly, in her statements before the hearing, Segaise could only but concur that ‘it would be a fair consideration that since the CEO only assumed duty on 1st April, some of the shortfall may have arisen from the time before she (Taylor) came.’

In what was perhaps a painful cross-examination, the acting BFA finance manager admitted that the over expenditure at the association predated Taylor’s arrival. She even went as far as admitting that negatives on the BFA accounts started appearing in April, which was Taylor’s first month in office.

Taking the stand in her own defence, Taylor said from her observation, ‘the FIFA Covid and women Covid fund were long exhausted before I joined.’ “From the bank accounts sometimes as at December 2020, there was a shortfall in the FIFA USD account,” she told the hearing.

She went on to add that because of the common practice that goes on at BFA of offsetting votes when more money is received, ‘this led to most if not all of us to believe that Covid funds were still available for utilisation.’

“This is so because the spreadsheets used were reflecting that indeed there were funds in those votes and the balances were not reconciled with the bank balances,” she explained.

She said she was given ‘an assurance in June that there was money for Covid Women as per the report provided’ but when she went on to interrogate further, she ‘could see for some reason that what was in the bank Account and what was on the books that were prepared by the Finance Managers did not balance as the bank accounts showed there was a balance of about USD744K in the FIFA USD account.’

“I had observed that the finance team were giving books that showed balances even though the same could not be found in the bank balances, it is has been a concern that those books did not reconcile with the bank balances,” Taylor told the hearing team.

The now former BFA CEO said when she first ascended to the post she suggested that there should be a forensic audit of the association accounts. “In one of my first meetings with the president, I did say that we needed to do a forensic audit as he had alerted me that there was a lot of misuse of funds that had gone on at the association,” she said.

On where some of the association money not spent on operational costs had been spent, Taylor told the hearing that “I am certain that if I could have been in office in December and if I was not suspended in January I could have found out. I had already instructed the Finance team to compile the very same information I have been asking for since the 10th of January 2022.”

According to sources at the association, while Taylor is responsible for part of the mess, many of the members of the BFA National Executive Committee (NEC) are also to blame.

The source said some of the over expenditure at the association is the result of some of the failure by some NEC members to return the association funds.

“Taylor was requesting some of them to be called to account for the association funds and they had no option but to force her removal from office. She had already written to the BFA NEC requesting that action be taken against some NEC members but the powers that be seemed too scared to act,” the source said.

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