Saturday, June 6, 2020

Has BFA’s haste to charge Sebego left the sport body compromised?

By Botlhale Koothupile

When the Botswana Football Association (BFA) hauled its former president Tebogo Sebego over the coals in December last year, it must have felt like they finally got their coup de grace.

For a long time since he lost BFA presidential elections, Sebego was at BFA crosshairs. The former BFA president was however proving himself a hard target, an elusive and cunning prey.

Then came the opportunity, Facebook posts in which the obviously miffed Sebego ranted about ‘brown envelopes killing his sport’ and another one in which he lamented about ‘a spineless leader using court processes’ to smoke out competitors.

For BFA, this was an opportunity to pounce, and they did not miss it. The BFA president Maclean Letshwiti took it upon himself to press charges against Sebego.

The latter faced four counts of ‘bringing the name of the Association, its structures, and officials into disrepute.

However, if the judgement of the BFA Disciplinary Committee (DC) is anything to go by, the BFA may have in their haste to ‘nab’ Sebego, miscalculated and jumped the gun, and he got their number.

When the matter was heard before the BFA DC on December 11th 2018, the BFA was left with nowhere to go as Sebego was exonerated.

In the aftermath, the BFA has made its intentions clear that it will appeal the BFA DC ruling. However, one source days, the association may find it has no place to go if the ruling is anything to go by.

The source is of the opinion that given the BFA president’s miscalculations, any new efforts to appeal or charge Sebego over the matter may be viewed as proof to the long held views that the association is only seeking to bar him from standing for elections next year.

Citing the written judgement, which The Sunday Standard has seen, the source said it will be all the more an exercise in futility by the BFA to pursue its former president.

In its written judgement which was released this past week, the BFA DC ruled that the charges against Sebego ‘are a procedural irregularity’ as they contradict articles 116 and 117 of the BFA Disciplinary code.

 

 

Article 116 talks to the process of reporting incompatible behaviour to a judicial body while 117 talks to the investigation that needs to be undertaken following such a report.

The BFA DC agreed with Sebego that there had been no written complaint by any ‘person or sports body’ reporting any conduct by the former BFA president that may have been considered ‘incompatible with the regulations of the BFA or FIFA to ‘the judicial bodies.’

It also concurred with the former BFA president’s argument that there were no investigations carried out under the guidance of a judicial body chairman as per the BFA regulations.

“The charge is pursuant to a preliminary investigation. None was done here, certainly not in compliance with the code. A report on the other hand follows a value judgement by the body or person making the report,” so reads the BFA DC judgement.

“It is the committee’s view that the proceedings are irregular, improper and not in compliance with the Code of Conduct and should therefore be struck out. It is important that the process by which parties are brought to book must not only seem to be fair, it must in fact be seen to be fair in so far as it is carried. The adage justice must not only be done but must be seen done rings true,” the BFA DC ruled.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the source said Letshwiti jumped the gun and disregarded the set procedures when dealing with his predecessor.

“I do not see how the BFA can appeal when it is clear they disregarded their own set procedures. There were no proper investigations and as the DC said, there is no suggestion that there was a written complaint that could have warranted such an investigation to be undertaken,” said the source.

With elections of the BFA NEC office bearers coming next year and Sebego being touted as a possible candidate, the source revealed that any continued pursuance of Sebego would only strengthen the already existing narrative that the BFA is trying to take out all possible opponents.

Ever since the 2016 BFA elections, a lot of officials believed to be pro Sebego have seen themselves under scrutiny from the BFA.

Among them has been the Debswana First Division North League (DFDNL) executive committee led by Mpezeni Sambandawe, Isaac Mabuta of Francistown Regional Football Association (FRAFA), Themba Senyemba of Chobe Regional Football Association and lastly and lately, Sebego’s right hand man Tariq Babitseng.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper

Cabinet caught up in a web of P240 million Covid-19 Tender

The fast-tracked procurement processes adopted by Covid-19 Presidential Task Force will come under renewed scrutiny when Botswana Government this week receives a...