The voters’ roll was yet to be read and the Botswana Football Association (BFA) electoral committee member Ntlogeleng Modise is already cutting a frustrated figure. As she steps back to whisper into BFA chief executive officer (CEO) Mfolo Mfolo’s ear, signs are showing she had had enough.
For a second, she looks like she is ready to forego the elections for a second weekend running. The delegates at the Kweneng Regional Football Association (KRFA) have relentlessly pressed her. She is yet to get a chance to get the elections ongoing.
Their first grievance is with the voters’ roll itself. Delegates feel it is prone to manipulation. This is a grievance they had aired a weekend prior. In short, they do not just want names and identity cards on the roll. They also want the names of clubs a delegate represents to show. That way, they say, there will be no room for impostors to vote masquerading as club representatives.
Where she gets it all wrong is trying to convince the delegates they could just vote and protest later. They will have none of that! They insist. Finally, Modise relents. She agrees to call names of delegates along with clubs they represent.
But the delegates are not satisfied, not yet! Another candidate had been vetted out by the electoral committee for being an active politician. They want to know how their preferred candidate was vetted out. The vetted-out candidate himself asks if he or his club are eligible to vote as they cannot stand. The answer from Modise is simple, he and his team can vote but he cannot stand for elections.
An earshot away, another delegate questions why the candidate cannot stand. He accuses the electoral board and BFA of double standards. The delegate alleges that two active politicians were allowed to vote a week prior in another region. Why were politicians only vetted out in the Kweneng region?
Things are heating up now, and this is may just not be what Modise had bargained for. She retreats and whispers something unto Mfolo’s ear. Whatever she says will not be known by anyone except the two of them. But this was perhaps a cue for him to help.
And so, the BFA CEO enters the fray. Soft spoken and patient, the Mfolo starts working his magic on the nearly unruly delegates. With the dexterity of a surgeon, he goes on a charm offensive, fielding questions and giving response.
He starts by addressing the now problematic issue of the vetted-out candidate, explaining to delegates the association was not aware other active politicians had been voted into office elsewhere. ‘For them to know a delegate is not qualified, they usually get a query from other candidates,’ he tells them. In the case of the KRFA candidate, he says they received a tipoff. As for those in another region, they have not had any tip off, he informs them.
In no uncertain terms, he makes it clear that while the association may have unknowingly allowed politically active delegates to stand as alleged, doing it knowingly would not be allowed. “Two wrongs do not make a right,” he tells them. In the end, he wins over the delegates and elections can continue. As one delegate tells him post the elections, ‘he spoke well and answered well. He had saved the day.’
In the elections which follow, VTM football club owner Vincent Mafutha is elected the new KRFA Chairperson. He takes over from the then incumbent Lekgotla Raditloko who he narrowly beat 48 – 45.