Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Nato caught in the crossfire of BFA power struggles

The brouhaha surrounding Township Rollers attacking midfielder Ofentse Nato possibly has nothing to do with him personally, but everything to do with the raging power struggles within the troubled Botswana Football Association (VFA), sources have revealed.

Information reaching Sunday Standard Sports indicates that Nato has been caught in the crossfire and is just collateral damage in the raging power struggles within the BFA, which have gained momentum ahead of the BFA elective annual general meeting (AGM). According to sources close o the football motherbody’s power struggles, Nato was unfortunate as he found himself ‘in the wrong place at the wrong time.’ 

“Unfortunately for him, Nato’s case came to the fore at a time when there was tension within the BFA, which is heading towards its elective AGM. It’s sad that his predicament is being milked to score political mileage,” said a source.

According to the source, no one wants to make a decisive intervention at the moment because there is a toxic political environment within BFA that has everyone walking on egg shells as they are all wary of making controversial decisions that may end their political careers.

“Cast your eyes back to the Sankoyo Bush Bucks saga last season, when the BFA was very decisive in its intervention. But things are different this time around. The BFA, especially its President Tebogo Sebego, has been ominously quiet. He hasn’t uttered a single word regarding the current situation. He is treading cautiously because he doesn’t want to upset anyone. He finds himself caught between a rock and a hard place. If he intervenes and rules in favour of either side he will be criticised for favouritism. So for him the best option is to keep his own counsel,” said the source.

BFA insiders have revealed that the puppet strings at the BFA are held by a cabal of at least three individuals at the Botswana Premier League (BPL). These three, said the sources, have Sebego dancing to their tune. They are the ones who pressured Sebego to protect BPL Board Chairman Rapula Okaile after he issued a directive to BPL Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Kitso Kemoeng to deduct 10 points from Rollers. The same cabal orchestrated and attended a meeting between Sebego and the BPL Chairman after the latter asked for protection in the wake of the 10 points deduction furore. The power brokers allegedly pressured the BFA President to endorse the directive after the BPL Board Chairman received threats following his decision to dock 10 points from Rollers.

“The trio actually authored the directive to deduct 10 points from Rollers and gave it to the BPL Chairman,” said the sources.
However, in a meeting with the power brokers, Sebego is said to have balked at the suggestion of him publicly endorsing the directive. Rather, he advised the acting BPL Board Chair to call a press briefing and promised to stand in solidarity with him. 

“Though they didn’t say it directly, the power brokers threatened not to vote for Sebego in the coming election if he didn’t do their bidding. The message was simple, either dock Rollers 10 points or lose elections,” said the source.

Cornered and with limited options, Sebego reportedly struck a deal with the power brokers, in which he promised to stand behind the BPL Board Chairman, but urged him to own up to the public and explain how the decision to dock Rollers 10 points was made. 

A stalemate ensued as Sebego stood his ground and insisted on the power brokers owning up to some of their controversial decisions. In the end, the press conference never saw the light of day. The BPL cartel is also said to be working in cahoots with some members of the BFA NEC, which according to the source explains why Sebego did not invoke his powers as BFA President to calm things down. Unravelling the boardroom shenanigans at the BFA, the source said one has to look as far back as January when the BFA NEC was supposed to select the National Disciplinary Committee. On January 20th, said the source, a list of potential NDC members was passed from BFA CEO Kemoeng to all NEC members. Among the list were members of the current BPL Disciplinary Committee; the likes of Busang Manewe, Thabo Ntshinogang and Akoonyatse. There were also names of others who had sat on the DC in the past or who had experience in sports. However, when the time came to vote the NEC members coalesced with some members of the BPL Board and refused to endorse the proposed candidates as they felt they were pro Sebego. They then tabled the names of the current BFA NDC and managed to accumulate enough numbers to prevail at the ballot.

“That’s how the current NDC came into office. Only later was it realised that their intention was politically motivated,” the source revealed. 

Reached for comment, Sebego refused to shed light on his relationship with his NEC and the BPL Board cartel, referring all questions to the BFA CEO. For his part, Kemoeng confirmed that he had drafted names of potential NDC jurors, most of which were rejected. He however refused to divulge which NEC members rejected the proposed candidates and later brought forth names of the current NDC jurors. 

“It’s the prerogative of NEC members to select NDC jurors as they wish,” he said.

For his part, Acting BPL Board Chairman, Okaile denied ever holding a meeting with Sebego to discuss issues relating to his protection following the points deduction furore.

 

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