“Who is BFA that parliament can not be told the remunerations of our national coaches…?
It was vividly clear from the beginning of the impromptu response presentation by the Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture, Moeng Pheto, that recently something controversial and sinister happened that shook and troubled the hallowed halls of parliament.
Presenting the spontaneous response on Thursday, Minister Pheto said, “I have noted with concern the allegations contained in the Daily News dated Wednesday 5th 2007 that I have flouted procedure by telling the salaries of the two coaches in response to a question asked by the Mahalapye East MP, Botlhogile Tshireletso. I wish to explain that as the Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture, I am accountable to cabinet, parliament and members of the public in general on matters concerning my portfolio’s responsibility of youth, sport and culture. As such I have the responsibility to answer truthfully and to the best of my knowledge all questions asked about my portfolio including how public funds are spent. Therefore, it is in this spirit that I responded to MP Tshireletso’s question on the salaries of coaches for the senior national football team, the Zebras, and the Under 23 team.”
The words by the minister were more than enough to signal a no nonsense approach to a looming confrontation with the Botswana Football Association (BFA).
Pheto added: “Whilst it is true that football in the country is not run by the Botswana government, it is important to note that government provides an annual financial assistance grant amounting to P25,322,520 to the Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC) for disbursement to its affiliated sporting codes which include the BFA that runs football in the country.”
Recently, the BFA chief, Phillip Makgalemela, informed the local media fraternity and the public in general that the sports minister flouted procedure by telling parliament the upsetting salary disparities between the senior national coach and the Under 23 coach, Colyn Rowe and David Bright, respectively. Further, he denied that the government assisted the BFA financially, saying the BFA was, instead, financed from money raised from the private sector and from membership and from connections such as the World Football body, FIFA.
He elbowed the government from interfering in matters of football.
Perhaps more disturbing and interesting is the minister’s response: “I wish to state for the record that sport and politics are intertwined and fully acknowledge that MPs have the right to scrutinize how public institutions, such as the BFA, utilize funds allocated to them through my ministry. Football matches are also played on government facilities such as stadia.
“It is, therefore, perfectly in order and expected of me to inform parliament and the public about how public funds are utilized. In fact, this year alone, an amount of P7.4m has been disbursed to the BFA through the BNSC by my ministry.”
Vexed by the BFA chief’s utterances, parliament on Thursday responded furiously and, had time been on their side, more blunt responses could have emerged.
“Who is BFA that parliament can not be notified of remunerations of our national coaches when it is in public domain?” emphatically queried Mogoditshane MP, Patrick Masimolole. “Something sinister is happening at the BFA.”
Kgalagadi West MP added, “BFA is not a private association. It is financially assisted by the government and, as such, is accountable to the government.”
Those in the know anticipate Makgalemela’s utterances could paint him negatively in his current position and political ambitions.
He is said to be eyeing the Shoshong parliamentary seat, currently held by Duke Lefhoko. Previous attempts to usurp the constituency have been futile.
But in a diverse country like Botswana where most Batswana are football crazy, Makgalemela’s political road could, in one way or another, have suffered a dent, sources reveal.
Not only is his career painted badly but the` BFA management raises eyebrows on the matters pertaining to football in the country.
It is a matter of public record that the Under 23 team, under the tutelage of Bright, are doing exceptionally well unlike the senior national team under Coach Rowe. But the remuneration disparities for the two coaches far defy their performances.
In his response to Tshireletso’s question last week, Pheto revealed that Rowe gets almost 6 times more than Bright.
“Bright earns around P10, 000 as compared to P62 073 earned by Rowe, the senior coach,” Pheto revealed in parliament last week. “Football is a mass sport that derives its revenues from various sources including supporters through gate takings. As such there is nothing wrong in them knowing how much money is spent on the coaches.”
Internationally, salaries of the coaches are known to the public. For example, the salaries of the South African coach Alberto Pereira and the former coach, Steve Mclaren, are all known.”
Pheto said it was, therefore, important to note that for as long as the government plays a major role in sport development, as is the current situation in Botswana , the taxpaying public have the right to be informed about how much money the government was spending on what.