Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Guilty! – BFA DC ruling an indictment on accountability of local sports

“As volunteers across all sporting codes, there is nothing binding us to be held accountable when we leave office,” Ntebogang Maplanka – Botswana Netball Association (BoNA) Secretary General.

While these words uttered by Maplanka sometimes in March early this year may have been directed at volunteers leaving office, they however talk to the truth about accountability or the lack of it in local sport.

This past week, the Botswana Football Association (BFA) Disciplinary Committee (DC) ‘exonerated First Division North League (FDNL) executive committee of wrongdoing.’

The executive committee, which is led by Mpenzeni Sambandawe was suspended by the BFA National Executive Committee (NEC) sometimes in 2018 after allegedly ‘failing to account for the association funds.’

For almost two years, the then suspended FDNL executive committee were crying for ‘justice,’ which almost seemed not forthcoming.

When the BFA DC exonerated them, their supporters pointed to the ruling as an indictment of the current BFA NEC’s use of underhand tactics to silence dissenting voices – ineptitude probably came to their minds.

Though Sambandawe and his committee sought to strike a reconciliatory tone in the aftermath of the verdict, they however could not let it go unknown that the accusations against them were a witch-hunt from deep dark corners.

“The verdict does not come as a surprise to us because our conscience has been clear that the accusations levelled against us were a witch hunt and never existed,” Sambandawe said in a previous interview with this publication. 

He continued to point out that “BFA leadership was after us despite the fact that we had submitted audited books of accounts. They believed there were financial irregularities in our books of accounts but there was no wrong doing on our part. It was politically motivated.”

Whereas detractors and the FDNL executive may point to the fact that the ruling was an indictment of the current BFA NEC’s heavy handedness in dealing with opposers, the truth is however ‘not black and white in this case.’

For the BFA NEC, theirs is a battle to make sure that unlike local sport in general, those handling association funds can be held accountable.

If anything, the ruling is an indictment of a system where sports leaders or volunteers never account for how they use public funds.

Unfortunately, the FDNL found itself in a situation where it found itself stuck in a past where there was no accountability and thus failed to account.

According to documents which Sunday Standard have seen and which were purportedly written or signed by Sambandawe, the FDNL executive never denied some funds were not accounted for.

In fact, in a letter written to the BFA executive committee on 09th October 2018, Sambadawe indirectly acknowledged his committee failed to account.

In the letter, the committee informed the BFA it could only account for P107 256. 00 of the funds it had been allocated.

“We pray that the pending amounts be cancelled so as to enable us to start on a clean slate,” reads the letter.

While the letter does not state how much was not accounted for, a source close to the BFA NEC says the monies amount to P65 000.

The source, who was speaking on condition of anonymity, says when the committee was suspended, the intention was for them to submit proper ‘documents’ for auditing purposes.

“Instead of submitting the documents, which would have included accommodation invoices, the committee instead submitted police affidavits which the BFA could not agree to such,” the source explains.

In their defense, the FDNL executive committee in their letter points out that they ‘had no guidance or tools to be used’ when doing financial reports.

“All along, the BFA has pointed out that their pursuit of the FDNL executive had nothing to do with football politics. It has everything to do with accountability,” the source says.

“As a recipient of the state funds, the BFA intends to make sure all monies are accounted for. It has invested time and resources in this process,” the source says.


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