Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Politricks or just coincidence? ÔÇô Regions cry foul ahead of regional elections

Some members of the Botswana Football Association (BFA) Regional Football Associations are accusing the local mother body of playing dirty ahead of scheduled elective regional assemblies.

This follows the BFA’s decision to slap some of the contestants ‘alleged to be loyal to the past Sebego regime’ with letters demanding explanations on what they deem ‘trumped up charges’ against them.

This past Thursday, the trio of Olson Mantle from Hukuntsi region, Isaac Mabutha from Francistown region and Themba Senyemba from Chobe region, received letters demanding answers for various issues.

The trio, who are viewed as aligned to Sebego, have put their names forward for various positions within their regions.

Mantle and Mabutha are eyeing the chairmanship of their regional associations, while Senyemba is looking to retain his position as the Chobe regional football association Secretary General.

Mabutha and Senyemba have allegedly been surmoned by the BFA 2nd Vice President Pelotshweu Marshlow Motlogelwa to answer for some funds while Mantle has been called to answer for his alleged posts on his Facebook page.

Reached for comment, Mabutha and Senyemba acknowledged receiving correspondence from the BFA while attempts to reach Mantle proved futile as his mobile went unanswered.

“I can confirm that indeed I received a correspondence from the BFA 2nd VP on Thursday requesting that I answer for some transactions that happened in the region as part of an ongoing audit,” a cagey Mabutha, who is challenging well known BFA regime loyalist Maokaneng Bontshetse for the regional chairmanship explained.

While Mabutha refused to discuss the matter further as he was yet to respond to the BFA correspondence, sources close to him say the move is intended to hinder him from taking over from Bontshetse, more as he is seen as the front runner in the campaign.

“Mabutha is seen as anti regime and has been targeted for removal from the BFA since the last elections,” a source revealed.  “His friction with the association can be traced back to last year October when he was suspended indefinitely on allegations of misappropriation of funds. In February, he challenged the decision in court and in March, the court ruled in his favour and the BFA settled costs,” the source revealed.

“In April, the BFA then wrote him a letter from the BFA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) to ‘show cause why action should not be taken against him for taking football matters to court.’ However, when he challenged the letter, the BFA beat a retreat and that was the end of the matter,” said the source.

With all the past attempts to remove him having failed, the source says the BFA now has seemingly come up with a new strategy to ensure those with divergent views from the current regime are silenced.

“Mabutha is in a strong position to depose Bontshetse from the chairmanship and if we read well, the plan is to hit him with some form of a case so that he is not eligible by the time elections come. That way, Bontshetse will have no competitor and will take back the chairmanship,” the source opined.

For his part, Senyemba said he has received a letter from Motlogelwa demanding that he answer ‘for the P5 000 sponsorship he received from the area’s Member of Parliament (MP) sometime last year.’

“It was a surprise for me to receive such a letter as I was still waiting for a meeting with the regional committee to hand over the receipts of transactions to them as we had agreed,” Senyemba said.

According to Senyemba, while he has long told the regional committee he was ready to give them all documents of transactions, the committee had ensured that meetings scheduled for such continuously fail.

“The chairman and the treasurer have been absent in the region from September last year up until February this year. As such, the region did not have access to funds and I then took the initiative and asked for sponsorship from the area MP, which he availed. I then informed the Chairman and the Treasurer of such and informed them that we will use the monies to run the region and they will be furnished with reports of transactions,” he explained.

“On the 18th of April, I was called for a meeting and at the meeting, the regional chairman informed that I should have submitted all receipts of transactions in 14 days. On the 19th, I informed him that the receipts were ready and that I am ready to submit them. I also informed him I was at the Police Station making copies for myself to keep records. In fact, I had asked the Station Commander to accompany me when I handed the documents as I sensed there was some motive. The Chairman promised to convene a meeting and I am still waiting,” he explained.

“On the 27th April, I called the chairman to convene a meeting and he agreed and on the 9th of May, he called a committee meeting for the following day (10th) through our WhatsApp group. However, when the time came, only the chairman and I turned up,” said Senyemba.

“The Chairman however then ruled out the meeting for the 11th as he was going to the regional playoffs but promised a meeting when he came back. However, when I enquired after the playoffs, he told me he was going to a wedding in Francistown and he has never been back ever since,” he explained.

Senyemba said he was surprised to then see correspondence from the BFA 2nd vice president demanding answers.

“I am yet to answer the correspondence and I cannot therefore read if there is any motive in the correspondence. If there is anything, it will become clear soon,” he said.

However, those close to him say he is targeted for removal as he poses a threat to the current chairman.

“He is an influential figure and even though he is not contesting for the chairmanship, he can sway the elections. The view is that if he is allowed to participate, he is more likely to ensure the current chairman does not retain his position,” a source revealed.

“The BFA regime wants to control the region and if Senyemba is still there and influential as he is, it will be impossible. This is all political manoeuvring from the top at the BFA headquarters,” the source concluded.

Reached for comment, Motlogelwa said it ‘can only be coincidence that the correspondence came at a time of elections,’ but said there was no political motivation.

“We are preparing the audit report for the end of the BFA financial year and all we are doing is calling on people to account. We do not want a repeat of last year where we could not finish our audit in time,” Motlogelwa said.

“Whether it is an election year or not did not come into play. This has nothing to do with elections and we cannot avoid calling people to account just because it is election year,” Motlogelwa concluded.

The BFA 2nd vice president however refused to be drawn into whether any of the trio will be suspended, thus barring them from contesting elections.

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