Recognising that there are serious issues that impact on people aspiring to ascend to leadership positions, some tools have been developed to deep dig into the moral, ethical and other aspects beyond the colourful academic qualifications such aspiring candidates could possess. The reason for subjecting aspiring candidates to integrity and credibility tests among others over and above the mainstream academic qualifications, is to ensure that only untainted candidates in any form or shape ascend to such leadership positions. Botswana Football Association (BFA) is one such organisation that has developed similar integrity and credibility tools to ensure that individuals not tainted by any ‘dark cloud’ of whatever form or shape ascend to leadership positions precisely because beyond the support of their supporters, such leaders inspire confidence to those who are not necessarily per se, interested in football. The mere fact that such leaders are not tainted by any issue bordering on integrity and credibility inspire confidence.
It is against the above that I penned an article last week on the issues surrounding the candidature of individuals aspiring to contest the position of BFA president in the forthcoming elective General Assembly. The BFA Electoral Committee had vetted out two of such candidates on issues bordering on their integrity and credibility flowing out the ethics requirements of both the BFA and FIFA statutes. The ethics test determines these imperatives-integrity and credibility. So many conspiracy theories were brought about with respect to why these two aspiring candidates were so vetted out and perhaps stringently so as argued by one such theory while the only vetted in candidate appeared to have softly been dealt with to purportedly afford him an unfair advantage over the other candidates. It appeared from a distance that there were integrity and credibility issues affecting all aspiring candidates which on face value, could potentially disbar them from contesting. Consequently, an Appeal Committee was seized with appeals from the vetted out candidates to determine whether or not they were properly and fairly amongst others, so vetted out. It is understood a complaint in the form of an appeal against a conflict of interest issue was brought against the only vetted in aspiring candidate. I could not gather what the reasons for appealing the Electoral Committee’s decision were given that these were not publicly disclosed probably because they were treated as personal and confidential. It is common cause that the Appeal Committee has since overturned the Electoral Committee’s decision to bar the two aspiring candidates thereby reinstating them to be candidates in the upcoming elective General Assembly.
Now that I am not aware of the reasons upon which the appealing aspiring candidates were reinstated by the Appeal Committee because that was the preserve of the Committee and the appellants, it is not clear to me how issues of integrity and credibility in the context of the BFA tools were dealt with at the appeal stage. I nevertheless respect the decision of the Appeal Committee. This notwithstanding, my concern still remains on whether the three candidates going to stand for the presidency of the BFA have withstood the test of the tool that supposedly, is meant to measure and pass aspiring candidates to do so. Otherwise, there will be no point of the questions raised in the BFA eligibility application questionnaire form for all the aspiring candidates on ethics and all that is contained therein. I would be raising the same concern if other candidates other than the ones in question were in the same or similar circumstances. The ethics issue is critical in all leadership roles be they in political or football positions. In a paper titled ‘FIFA to the pitch: Ethics in Soccer’ under the subtitle ‘Ethical Leadership in Soccer’, the authors hold that ‘Leaders play a critical role in the ethical culture of an organisation because their actions determine what constitutes ethical behaviour in the workplace or in sports.’
So without the benefit of how the Appeal Committee dealt with issues raised at the hearings and the subsequent reinstatement of the appellants, it is difficult to say whether or not the three candidates passed the eligibility questionnaire test as raised in the BFA application form. There was an issue of conflict of interest which one is not aware of how it was dealt with if it was on the table as already said. Given the public interest in this matter generated by the fact that football is a popular and probably by far an emotive sport and the non-public disclosure of its findings so far (assuming such will be made public at one point), speculation on the basis of those findings abounds. One such speculation is that because football politics seemed to have played a significant part in vetting out the other aspiring candidates, the reinstatement is, if you like, meant to soothe the pain of the losing candidates by allowing them back in the contest. But if the BFA is happy that the test was passed on a technicality as it could be suggested as opposed to the substantive questions and requirements of its own questionnaire, it could be fair to suggest that the BFA has pitifully lowered the leadership bar at the expense of overall football management and the delivery of its mandate to its stakeholders. If that is the case, it defeats the whole purpose of subjecting aspiring candidates to the test of integrity and credibility for leadership positions in its structures.
From where I stand, I am not persuaded that the leadership bar has not been pitifully lowered. In fact and like I have alluded to above, the BFA eligibility questionnaire does not seem play any meaningful purpose for which it was presumably crafted given what has unfolded this far. This state of affairs fits very well with the general leadership challenges across society occasioned by the seemingly low standards attached thereto. In instances where a tool is availed to test the eligibility of aspiring candidates like it is with the BFA, such test is somewhat rendered ineffective by the lack of courage and conviction by supposedly those entrusted with the duty to ensure that it is so effective. The end result inevitably, becomes the poor to no service delivery to the intended stake holders. I do not have any personal issue with the presidential candidates in this particular instance because they are football individuals who have served football in different capacities at one stage or the other. What I have issue with though, is the manner in which the process and procedures of rendering applicants eligible to stand appear to have been compromised in one respect or the other hence the appeals.
Covid-19 is taking a turn for the worse. It is our duty to ensure that we defeat the pandemic. Let us wash our hands more frequently with clean soap and water and sanitise where possible, keep social distancing and wear masks. Our fate is in our hands.