Thursday, December 8, 2022

“I do not use the constitution to victimise anyone” – Letshwiti

Segolame Ramothwa, Mpenzeni Sambandawe and his then entire Debswana First Division North League executive committee, Sydney Magagane, Tico Kamati, Marcos Letebele and his entire Ghanzi Regional Football Association (GRFA).

What ties them all together? All of them are renowned administrators within the Botswana football structures. And the similarities do not end there. All of them have been at one point or another been suspended by the current Botswana Football Association (BFA).

At the time of their suspensions, all of them were at the pinnacle of their football administration career. Ramothwa and Kamati were members of the BFA National Executive Committee (NEC). Sambandawe and Magagane were the chairpersons of Debswana First Division League (DFDL) in the North and South respectively. Letebele on the other hand was the chairman of GRFA.

They are among many who have since 2016 been subjected to suspensions and charges from the current BFA regime. Other notable and latest administrators in the list include Martin Mabutho and Johane Chenjekwa, just to mention but two.

Another similarity is that all the above, at their time of suspension, all the above had opposed the regime or its way of doing things. Ramothwa and Kamati were allegedly suspended for questioning how the current regime did some things. They were at the time part of the regime.

The remaining others were already believed to be opponents of the current BFA regime. All of them were expected to stand for elections in camps seeking regime change. They would have voted against the current BFA leadership had they been allowed to stand for elections and won.

“Of all the past BFA regimes, none has suspended so many people. The current leadership is using the constitution to target those administrators whom they feel are opposing them. They use it to silence opposing voices, either within or outside,” one administrator points out.

The administrator goes on to point that what should be of great interest is the timing and length of suspensions meted out. Most of the suspensions, like those of Magagane, Chenjekwa, Letebele and his committee as well as Sambandawe and his committee came prior to elections. These effectively killed off their chance to stand for elections.

Some like those of Mabutho and Sambandawe dragged for more than two years without them being called for any disciplinary hearings. “You cannot have such punitive actions taken under the guise of the constitution. How does a suspension go for four years?” the administrator asks. “They are weaponizing the constitution,” he says.

Current BFA president Mclean Letshwiti however holds a different view. “May be people can say may be the way we apply the constitution and our rules, suspending people, but that is subjective,” he says.

The BFA president says in his stay at the helm, he has realized that people do not want to live by the rules. He says if they were to leave everything to go unpunished, the beautiful game would be destroyed.

Letshwiti says people cannot be allowed to do as they please because we are scared of what people will say. Should that happen, he says things will get out of control as no one will be made to account for his or her actions.

Does he use the constitution to target those who differ with him? “That is perception. I allow people to do their jobs, I do not interfere. I do not understand why people would say that.”

“I do not victimize people who do not agree with me. I victimize people who victimize football. For that I have zero tolerance. People differing with me, I have no problem. In fact, I work better with everyone,” he nonchalantly dismisses the allegations. 

The BFA president says contrary to what is being said, he has nothing to do with cases of suspended people taking a long time to be resolved. He says once people are suspended, he has no role to play. He says once someone is suspended, the matter gets out of his hands and goes to the judicial structures. “Once there, I cannot go to them and ask anything or say anything because it will be like I am interfering. Once I have suspended, I am out of it.”

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