Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Money matters at BAA choke officials

Botswana Athletics Association (BAA)’s long running financial irregularity feuds have flared up again. 

Not known to keep away from negative reporting, in recent times, the BAA seemed to have entered a new era of positive press, mainly due to the achievements of its athletes on track and field.

This sense of serenity was, however, shattered just after the 2016 Rio Olympics as allegations of fraud cropped up at the association.

Now, the association finds accounting hawks circling above it as it totters into a mud of financial rot.

In what many now view as the tip of an iceberg, a junior officer, Holiday Matibini, was suspended following suspicions of fraud at the BAA.

The suspension of Matibini opened a can of worms as now some executive committee members are also suspected of pillaging the BAA coffers.

Now, BAA treasurer Brian Mosweu has been suspended on suspicion of misappropriation of funds while another senior executive committee member is said to be under suspicion.

Information reaching this publication is that a group of three individuals, among them Matibini, Mosweu and another individual (name withheld), who call themselves “Finance Committee”, have at varying times misused BAA funds.

Matibini is alleged to have forged signatures on some BAA Government Purchase Orders (GPO), which he then used to con some unsuspecting small business owners of their cash on the pretext of giving them tenders at the BAA.

Mosweu’s problems on the other hand started in July 2016 when he was appointed team manager for the national athletics junior team that competed at the World Junior Championship in Poland.

 According to a source, as manager of the team, the suspended BAA treasurer allegedly withholding allowances meant for junior athletes, claiming he was not given any money by the BAA.

“The team was made up of 10 athletes but four of them – Karabo Sibanda, Baboloki Thebe, Galefele Moroko and coach Mogomotsi Otsetswe – went upfront for training in Germany before the competition since they were part of the Olympics team. Mosweu is alleged to have withheld the four’s allowances but only paid the six he left the country with,” a source told Sunday Standard.

The source said Mosweu was supposed to give all the athletes P3 000 allowance each upon their arrival in Poland.

“No one was aware of these pending payments of athletes until this past week when one of the disgruntled athletes threatened to report the matter to the Minister of Sports. Mosweu was then immediately summoned to explain.

He was also instructed to submit a report to the executive committee explaining his actions, and he is yet to do that. Some of the athletes confirmed that he paid them their money on Thursday afternoon (last week) after a four-month struggle,” the source said.

In the aftermath of the alleged misuse of funds, the BAA then wrote to the Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC), requesting for an internal audit to be carried out at the association.

Reached for comment, BAA’s Public Relations Officer Roland Masalila confirmed all the allegations. 

“It is true indeed athletes were not paid their travelling allowances by Mosweu, who was the team manager. When we called him for questioning, he gave us his side of story but we believe it was outside the association’s rules and regulations.  We reprimanded him for his wrong doing and the athletes were paid last week Thursday,” he said.

“Matibini, on the other hand, has since been suspended and his case is before the police,” the BAA PRO explained.

“We are currently busy at work trying to resolve these issues as they are dragging the name of the association in the mud,” concluded Masalila.

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