For Botswana Karate Association (BOKA)’s Tshepo Bathai, re-election into the BOKA presidency may have elicited some bitter-sweet memories.
Back in December 2014, Bathai unceremoniously left BOKA barely eight months into his reign. His resignation followed a tumultuous six months that had seen him survive a coup from some BOKA affiliates and his own executive committee.
At the height of his crisis-laden rule of BOKA, Bathai had to contend with the resignation of at least four members of his executive committee. Though he managed to convince some of the committee members who had resigned to rescind their decision, thus avoiding the impending dissolution of his executive committee, the truce did not last long and by the end of that year, he was gone.
While Bathai’s resignation was mostly seen as the end of the road for him, the fourth dan black belt Sensei surprised many when he trounced Shihan Mpho Bakwadi for the BOKA presidency last weekend.
For the man himself, the re-election was not a surprise. “After my resignation, I believe the affiliates have learnt to appreciate and understand the vision my committee and I have to grow Karate. The problem at the time was that I moved swiftly to implement my vision and strategy for karate, something which unsettled a lot of people, including those within my committee,” Bathai opined.
“For a long time now, the problem with our administration has been that we are always talking good things but taking long to implement or even failing to implement. When my committee assumed office during that short stint in 2014, we tried to remove all the red tape and implement our plan for BOKA. That caused a furore and I had to resign to let things settle,” the BOKA president continued.
Among his planned strategies to turn karate around at the time of his unceremonious departure from BOKA in 2014, was overseeing the formation of the BOKA Foundation Trust, creating a Funeral and Insurance Group scheme for BOKA executive committee, affiliates and officials, establishing the Botswana Karate Premier League (BKPL) as well as clearing a website for the association, just to mention a few.
“These initiatives were meant for karate to become a sustainable association which could take care of its own and produce competitive athletes. When our committee vacated office back then, some of the initiatives were already running while some were close to implementation stage. However, all the initiatives have since failed and those that were already running are no more,” Bathai explained.
Now as he takes office once again, the new BOKA president and his executive committee are looking to resuscitate all of the initiatives and to improve them to match the current environment.
“We have the same vision and plan as we had back then, only that this time around, it has been improved to match the current time,” said the BOKA president.
According to Bathai, BOKA’s plan for this year will be to ensure that all the initiatives that were put in place during his short reign, except for those involving competitions, are revisited and re-implemented within a short time.
“The reason for this is that we have major competitions coming and we do not want to disrupt our calendar of events so that we can let our athletes prepare well,” he said.
“When we left office, the BOKA Foundation Trust was already a registered entity, which it still is. It already had some trustees who were influential people who were willing to help us. Now that it has not got off the ground, we intend to approach some of the trustees again to see if they are available. If they are, we are good to go. If not, we will then have to start looking for new trustees.”
Bathai said it is through this trust and its trustees that BOKA will try to find financiers and sponsors to finance the association’s programmes and initiatives.
“We cannot raise money or at most convince financiers as we have little or no weight. We thus need our board trustees to help us on such matters so that the association can be self sustainable.”
On the issue of the BOKA Funeral and Insurance group scheme, Bathai said when his committee left, it was also in place. “It was, however, let to die just like the other initiatives because the subscription was not paid.”
“The same fate happened to the BOKA website. When we left office, it was up and running. It has now been dormant and was closed by its host as BOKA failed to pay the subscriptions for it to be hosted,” said the BOKA president.
He said as a committee, their plan is to ensure that the initiatives are back running again by the end of this year.
Concerning competition related initiatives, Bathai said the aim of his committee was to have them running early next year. He said this was to ensure there were no disruptions to this year’s calendar of events.
On whether he does not harbour any fears of being pushed out again, the BOKA president says he has a full trust on his current committee. He said they had a common purpose and were willing to see third term through.
“As for the affiliates, we plan to keep them well informed on all decisions we would have taken so that they feel a part of the processes and do not get misled by other people,” Bathai concluded.