As Botswana Football Association (BFA) president Maclean Letshwiti calls for a united front from stakeholders, one cannot help but feel sorry for the man. The BFA president is facing what is perhaps the most difficult term of his presidency.
His cause is not helped by the ongoing fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, which for more than a year now, has brought sport in Botswana, and football in particular, to a halt. As if not enough, now under his eye as it was under his predecessor, football political power play is threatening to plunge football deeper into crisis.
In the middle of all this, Letshwiti, who along with his executive committee have been accused of playing fiddle in the middle of the local football crisis is facing mutiny from his own allies and enemies alike.
Accused of reversing the gains that Botswana football had made before he assumed presidency, the BFA presidency looks set to face the most testing remainder of his second term as some of his staunchest allies, including those who campaigned for him, now vie for his head.
Now as both immediate past allies and enemies alike join forces against him and accuse him of taking football back to the dark days, the question arises; ‘Is Letshwiti entirely to blame for the current state of football?’
For those who have been following football, the current BFA president cannot be solely held responsible. For starters, they believe when the BFA president assumed his presidency, he inherited an already broken system.
Letshwiti assumed power as a beneficiary of football politics, which at the time saw the then powerful Premier League move most of their votes towards him. At the time he ascended to power, the political power play and factionalism was already destroying football.
When he raised his hand to lead football, Letshwiti was seen as a beacon of hope. He was not a football politician but an astute businessman who many assumed cannot only heal the factional wars but also turn around the sport.
Unfortunately for him, as a non-football politician, he found himself having to rely on football politicians for guidance. As a result, political appointees gained jobs within Lekidi as token of appreciation. This polluted the BFA and further fuelled political battles as people sort to settle scores.
“Maclean (Letshwiti) is part of the problem merely because from where I am standing, he trusts his lieutenants a lot and they are running the show,” one administrator says.
The administrator however said the largest portion of the blame should be apportioned to the Botswana Football League (BFL) shareholders and chairpersons. “They were not ready and will never be ready to run themselves, not now and not in the next 5 years,” he opines.
Concerning Letshwiti, the administrator says from the administration point of view, he did very well ‘more especially for development of human resource. “We saw administrators and referees being trained. And also, he improved accountability more especially at regional level,” the administrator says.
“But football is played in the ground and what matters to many is the outcome. People want to see the vibe we saw from 2008/09 when Mochudi Centre Chiefs rivalled Township Rollers and Gaborone United and made our football appear growing,” he says.
On the politics at play, the administrator says the fact that Letshwiti’s opponents never accepted him as a leader has contributed to the ongoing ‘factional tensions within football.’ The administrator went on to point that ‘politics grew during Maclean’s era.’
“He (Letshwiti) has been running football via his trusted lieutenants and most of them had beef with his predecessor Tebogo Sebego. They took advantage of frustrating him even more and that is where Maclean lost a plot to unite football,” he opines.
The situation, according to the administrator, is exacerbated by the divisions within the BFA secretariat where both him and Sebego have people ‘who are always ready to fight their battles and escalate the politics.’
“I do not think if Sebego ever accepted his loss to Letshwiti, more especially in 2016, we could be here. I also think Maclean could have done better in handling him,” the administrator concludes.