The fallout between erstwhile friends, Botswana Football Association (BFA) president Maclean Letshwiti and Gaborone United (GU) financier Nicholas Zackhem had at one point threatened to tear local football asunder.
Now as Zackhem takes his place at the BFA National Executive Committee (NEC) as the Botswana Football League (BFL) representative, thanks to his recent elections as BFL Board Chairman, questions abound as to whether he will be tamed or if he will be a thorn in the flesh of the Letshwiti regime.
One of the theories making rounds is that by virtue of being in the BFA NEC, it will be easier to put a leash on him as he will be bound by stricter regulations to keep quiet. “Now he will be bound by regulations. Any misstep or misconduct on his part will attract a sanction from the BFA NEC,” a source said.
But there is another theory, one that his presence alone in the executive will strengthen his standing in local football. Since 2015 when he started actively and visibly participating in football politics, then campaigning for Letshwiti as he did again in 2020, Zackhem has been looked to as one of the king makers in local football.
But his support, some say, has come at a price. In the years that followed since 2015, the GU financier has been the man often credited or blamed for the mess in local football. At BFL, he has been fingered as the man who decides the person who should lead the league board.
It is from here that he got to dispose of Aryl Ralebala, a man who many say was his choice. The two, allegedly, fell off when Ralebala chose to do things his own way without any regard for him. It is said that when he called out Letshwiti to call out Ralebala and he refused, all bets were off. He bayed for both Ralebala and Letshwiti’s blood.
And as his relationship with Letshwiti went south, Zackhem, it seems, decided to go to the man he so viciously campaigned against in the last two elections, former BFA president Tebogo Sebego ‘for a marriage of convenience.’ While the agreement or the relationship between the two, if any, is not known, those in the know say the arrival of the GU financier at the BFA NEC will only strengthen his arm in local football.
“He harbors an ambition of one day leading the BFA. Being close to the seat of power and knowing that he can influence BFA elections as he has done over the past six years will just strengthen his arm should he decide to stand for elections. He now knows what he needs to do to win football elections,” another source disclosed.
On whether he had anything to do with Sebego’s election as an Independent Board member of the BFL, a source said despite them having been a little closer, there is still no love lost between the two. In fact, Zackhem was said to be one of the few who were against Sebego’s election to the BFL Board of Directors.