By Botlhale Koothupile
The Botswana Football Association (BFA) 2020 elective General Assembly is just a year away, and already, different factions are bracing for what is expected to be yet another explosive year.
As is with BFA elections, the warring factions are manoeuvring to outsmart and cancel out one another ahead of the general assembly, and the propaganda machinery is out in full force for both camps.
With the battle heating up, detractors on the one hand allege the current regime is plotting to use underhand tactics to amend the constitution in order extend their stay in office, an allegation which the BFA disputes.
The BFA on the other hand says this is just detractors crying wolf. For them, they are just carrying out the resolutions of the 2016 General Assembly, which approved that they must amend the association constitution.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a source close to the BFA said the association has engaged lawyers to draft new election policies to be considered at the BFA General Assembly which is due to be held on 3rd August 2019.
“It has come to our attention that the association is busy amending the constitution to align the terms of office of regional football associations to run concurrently with that of the mother body,” the source revealed.
According to the source, the plan is for the BFA General Assembly to approve the extension of the current regional football associations’ office bearers by a further two years to finish in 2022.
The source said should the General Assembly agree to such, the BFA NEC then intends to request the General Assembly to also extend the term of the NEC to finish at the same time with that of the regional structures.
“Mind you, some of these were not elected by the assembly but were appointed by the BFA National Executive Committee (NEC) after elected regional committees were ousted. In return, they will be expected to approve the amendments to the constitution which will include and then to finish at a time with that of the current regional football associations.
“If approved, this will mean that there will be no elections next year and the current executive will have an additional two years in office,” the source said.
The source said if the assembly approves the constitutional amendments, it will be a blow for the Tebogo Sebego faction, which is said to be gaining ground on the current office bearers ahead of elections.
Just this past week, Sebego made his intentions clear that he will be seeking re-election to the BFA presidency to challenge the incumbent, Maclean Letshwiti, who defeated him at the last polls in 2016.
“Hopefully, the general assembly will not approve these amendments as they are not well thought of. They are only meant to serve the interest of the current and not football,” the source said.
Commenting on the matter, BFA Chief Executive Officer Mfolo Mfolo disputed that the amendments of the constitution are meant to neither extend anyone’s stay n office nor even bar any person from contesting any position during next year’s General Assembly.
“During the 2016 assembly, members agreed that the current constitution is not good enough for the association. There was then an adoption that a task team made of lawyers be appointed to review and amend it,” Mfolo explained.
He said after the adoption, the BFA NEC appointed a task team of three lawyers to carry out the said review and amendment.
“The team has since reviewed and aligned the constitution with that of CAF and FIFA as mandated. During the BFA NEC meeting of 19th January, the team presented the reviewed constitution to the NEC, after which it was taken to FIFA for approval.
As we speak now, the constitution is at FIFA and we are just waiting for their feedback. FIFA has promised that by end of April, they would have finished dealing with it. From FIFA, it will be passed to all BFA regions for them to look into it,” the BFA CEO said.
He said when the BFA General Assembly meets later this year, the constitutional review task team would present their findings and the amended constitution to the BFA members.
“If the assembly approves it, it will be then adopted as the new BFA constitution. It has nothing to do with extending anyone’s stay in office,” he emphasised.
Reached for comment, Sebego said while he had heard of the rumours, he does not believe the BFA will try to amend the constitution without consulting the assembly first.
“When we were in a BPL meeting recently, one person said in passing that we should make our resolutions quickly for them to be added into the new constitution. I then asked that if there is any ongoing amendment of the constitution, I be granted a chance to appreciate the draft,” he said.
“However, I do not believe the BFA would actually do such as it will go against the constitution. According to our constitution, motions should be passed through the assembly first. The assembly then will look into them and if it agrees, then give the BFA the go ahead to make amendments, which once done, will again be passed through the assembly for final ratification. If the BFA goes ahead and amends the constitution without consulting the assembly, I do not believe it will pass. It will be like putting the cart before the horse,” Sebego said.