Thursday, October 29, 2020

Lobito Ncube – A Dark Horse Who Became a Winning Horse

As Lobito Ncube prepares to take her place at the Botswana Football Association (BFA) high table, insiders say she will definitely feel ‘she belongs.’

“Lobito was our own mokoko,” one Team Letshwiti insider said. (mokoko or cockerel in English, is a Setswana slang for a political independent candidate).

On Saturday 10 October, Ncube ‘caused an upset’ as she emphatically beat three other candidates to become the BFA National Executive Committee (NEC) female representative.

Compared to Ncube, the other three candidates were accomplished sports administrators with better track records.

Joy Setshedi came into the fold as an advocate of grassroots development and a long-time supporter of football. The former technical team sponsor for Mochudi Centre Chiefs contested the elections under the Team Malesu banner.

The other, Itsholeng Disang of Team Sebego is a former player, a football coach and a seasoned administrator who is the National Women’s Football Committee Chairperson. 

The third is the women from whom Ncube is taking over, none other than the then female representative in the BFA NEC Tsoseletso Magang.

‘Tsosi,’ as Magang is affectionately known was considered a bona fide Team Letshwiti member, or so people thought.

But on Saturday as the votes were being counted, Tsosi looked like an outsider looking in, while Ncube was an insider looking from the outside. 

Like a sore thumb, Magang stood out as the only BFA NEC member in Team Letshwiti to lose elections.

How Ncube managed to convincingly win the votes ahead of Magang, Disang and Setshedi has sparked a debate among local football followers.

Theories abound as to how she managed to outwit her fellow contenders, and two of those are the most peddled.

The first one is that ‘Ncube had the unlimited financial backing of a certain Nicholas Zakhem to thank.’ 

The second, and perhaps the most interesting is that she was actually Team Letshwiti’s preferred candidate, while Magang was just a decoy.

While there is no proof to these theories, save for the statement that she was a Team Letshwiti ‘mokoko’ by one insider, some have thrown numbers as perhaps a poignant hint to such.

“One question you have to ask yourself when looking at this is, ‘who is Lobito Ncube? What experience does she have in sports administration?” one observer said.

The observer said if one looks closely at how all Team Letshwiti members performed, more especially in the Francistown region, it will be easy to see that Ncube was with Team Letshwiti.

“During the re-run in Francistown, Ncube managed to beat Disang 10 – 2, the same margin Letshwiti got from the region. You cannot tell me that it was a coincidence,” said the observer.

One even pointed to the fact that when Ncube took Disang on during a re-run after tying votes at 24 each, she got all the 11 votes Magang had won and even added 3 more from Disang’s own.

“This does not point to an independent candidate. Under normal circumstances, you expect the two could have shared votes but this was not the case,” the observer opined.

He went on to state that the fact that Ncube was voted throughout all the regions, even though she was an unknown, proves she had a strong financial backing for her campaign.

The theories were however disparaged by Ncube’s campaign manager Mothusi Thapelo.

Speaking in an interview, Thapelo said contrary to what people say, Ncube ran an independent campaign without the backing of Zakhem or being part a de facto member of Team Letshwiti.

“I find it amusing when people come up with these theories. Our campaign was not backed financially,” he said.

“As for the theory that Ncube was supported by Letshwiti, it cannot hold as Letshwiti had backed Magang and stuck with her,” Thapelo said.

He said as part of their campaign, they had made it a point to effectively package their message based on what the electorates needed.

“When she decided to stand, our first initiative was to consult with the electorates, being women football, to hear what they needed. We then packaged our message for these electorates,” Thapelo explained.

With Ncube being an unknown among the electorates, he said he was the one who led the campaign as he knew all the delegates, most of them on personal basis.

“I informed them of Ncube’s intention and told them of her track record in sport, including her involvement with Gaborone United. Fortunately for us, the delegates heard our message and we were able to get votes from all the regions,” he said. 

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