“It is hard luck for BFA,” First Division North (FDN) Chairperson Mpenzeni Sambandawe summed up his feelings. After a long two-year battle, his committee has finally been cleared of any wrong doing by the Botswana Football Association Disciplinary Committee (BFA DC).
The verdict by the Martin Dingake chaired BFA DC brought a long-sought relief for Sambandawe and his entire FDN committee. For two long years, the FDN committee members were living under a cloud of uncertainty following accusations of misappropriation of association funds.
Since their suspension from office by the BFA National Executive Committee (NEC) on 29th October 2018, the entire committee had been in football wilderness. Prior to their hearing last week Thursday, the committee has been writing letters to the BFA seeking justice and arguing that their case has been dragging for a long time without them being charged.
In a bid to finally get the BFA to get the wheels of justice moving, the suspended committee members have written a letter to the BFA Disciplinary Committee requesting redress. “The delay in prosecuting our matter is a gross injustice to us as officials and it is not in the spirit of BFA constitution or Disciplinary code,” they wrote in a letter dated 25th February 2020.
In the letter, the suspended committee queried hat they have been suspended from all BFA activities ‘for almost one and a half years without any charge and or disciplinary action.’ In their letter to the BFA DC they plead with the Conflict resolution body to set aside their suspension and reinstate them.
Now they are finally in the clear and back on their perch, thanks to the BFA DC verdict which ruled they be reinstated back with immediate effect. “We have long maintained that we are innocent and we have been absolved from any wrong doing,” explains Sambandawe.
“The verdict does not come as a surprise to us because our conscience has been clear that the accusations leveled against us were a witch hunt and never existed,” he continues. “BFA leadership was after us despite the fact that we had submitted audited books of accounts. They believed there were financial irregularities in our books of accounts but there was no wrong doing on our part. It was politically motivated,” Samba says.
He goes on to say their suspension robbed football and in particular first division north an opportunity to reap the benefits of their well-set plans to develop football. Now as they prepare to reoccupy the office they were unceremoniously evicted from, Sambandawe says they hold no grudges and will work with the current BFA regime.
“We never fought BFA leadership. It was BFA leadership that fought and insinuated wrong doings on our part. We expect them to cordially work with us for the next two years,” he says.
Sambandawe says the reinstated committee will meet next week to map the way forward. “We will also meet with the interim committee to start a handover,” he says.
He goes on to add that going forward, his committee ‘intends to be more vigilant on their finances.’ “We want clean books of accounts,” he says.
The vocal chairperson says though they may still be hurting, the plan is ‘to have a sit down with the entire committee’ and lobby for peace.
“We need to reconcile with the leadership so that we can work together and serve the game without holding grudges against each other,” Sambadawe points out. Though they felt that the BFA has defamed them by denying the first division north league their rightful representation in pursuit of developing the game, he will pursue the peace route for football to win.
The reinstatement comes at a time when the BFA is a month away from its elective General Assembly (GA) which is slated for the 8th of August.
At the GA, the BFA delegates will elect a new executive committee to lead the association for the next four years.
With the race for BFA leadership now on, it will be interesting to see who the reinstated FDN Committee will back.
Samba and his committee members are believed to have an allegiance to former BFA president Tebogo Sebego, whom they backed during the 2016 elections.
The elections were won by the current BFA president Maclean Letshwiti.