The Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture was this week was vague on Botswana efforts to make a maiden hosting of the continental football extravaganza.
Kgathi said that his ministry would decide over the matter at an opportune time, dashing the hopes of many soccer fans who had hoped it would not be long before the government announced its readiness to host Africa’s most coveted event in the near future.
With an array of infrastructural developments taking shape across the country, including the newly erected stadiums, people had hoped that was just a matter of time before Botswana bid for hosting the soccer gala.
“The position taken by my predecessor should be viewed within context. It should be appreciated that at the time the decision not to bid was taken, the major consideration was the level of infrastructural development in the country,” said Kgathi, answering a question in Parliament on Thursday.
He was referring to the immediate past minister of his ministry, Gladys Kokorwe, who dismissed the project as non-starter, citing the infrastructure available which she argued was not conducive and convenient enough to hold an event of such magnitude.
“That having been said, as of now, the issue of bidding for AFCON 2015 has been overtaken by events since bids for 2015 and 2017 have been awarded to Morocco and South Africa, respectively,” Kgathi added, dismissing suggestions his predecessor could have frustrated the football mother body.
“I do not think the position taken by my predecessor frustrated the Botswana Football Association, given that, at the time, the country did not have the capacity to host the tournament,” he contended.
He did not wish his ministry to make a public pronouncement on bidding for the event in the near future, saying “such bids are made as and when events take place”.
“The next call for bids will be in 2013 for the 2019 and 2021 AFCON competitions. Therefore, one can only make a consideration for bidding when the time comes on the basis of the prevailing circumstances,” he concluded.
Kgathi, however, conceded that “cabinet is well aware of the opportunities and potential for sport and tourism brought about by hosting international sport events as already documented in the Botswana Excellence Strategy”.
Former president of BFA, Shoshong MP Phillip Makgalemele, unhappy about events in football, had posed questions to the minister.