When the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) hosted the Africa Junior Championships last month, many would not have predicted that the hosts’ below par performance would tear the association apart.
Whatever administrative success was derived from the hosting of the event seem to be overshadowed by the lack of it in the track and field grounds and tensions rose as members of the association’s top brass started fixing the blame not the problem.
The simmering tensions finally came to a head when the executive committee fired its then Publicity Secretary, Glody Dube, only for the committee itself to be ousted by its own affiliates a few days later.
With the BAA now operating under a leadership vacuum, in stepped the Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC) to try and normalise the situation.
In a press statement delivered to the media houses, the BNSC said “the BAA staff will continue to run the affairs of the association under the supervision of the BNSC through its sports Development officer, Lobone Kasale”.
According to the press statement, which is signed by the BNSC Chief Executive Officer, Kitso Kemoen, the BAA will choose its own executive committee, which will be expected to run its affairs immediately after a general meeting it has called for its troubled affiliate next weekend.
With the elections looming, it is believed that many of the just deposed executive committee will be making a bid for re-election, while a host of others will also be seeking positions in the executive committee. However, questions still arise as to what the BAA should look into when electing its new committee next week.
Commenting on the issue of electing new leadership for the association, the Botswana National Olympics Committee (BNOC) Chief Executive Officer, Tuelo Serufho, said the affiliates must look at the qualities and qualifications of potential office bearers not just sport participation for some of the positions while others will need such besides qualifications. “Personally, I believe they must look at the person’s passion, expertise and qualification when it comes to administrative positions. For technical positions, they can look for the above and participation on sport can be prioritised,” Serufho said.
The BNOC CEO, who says the current situation at the BAA is worrying, added that his office is currently drafting guidelines for electing executive committee members, a move which he hopes can root out problems like the one BAA is going through.
“We understand that these associations are autonomous, but we are hoping that we can agree on these guidelines so as to draft credentials that can be adapted to avert these situations,” Serufho added.
For his part, BAA’s immediate past Publicity Officer, Glody Dube, said the affiliates should put the interest of the association ahead when electing its new leadership.
“It is for the BAA affiliates to build the association. They must vote for people with leadership qualities, passion for the sport as well as people who have the development of the sport at heart,” the former BAA PRO said in an interview.
Dube says the new leadership should put the interest of future athletes at heart when taking decisions. He further acknowledged that the whole BAA leadership failed to address problems in time, something which he believes led to the current mess.
Dube, who says he has not put his hand up yet for a position in the executive committee, however, says he will be willing to enter the fray if the affiliates want him to do as such.
Dube’s sentiments were echoed by another former national team athlete, Lulu Basenyi, who said the BAA should be led by visionaries “who know what is needed to take athletics forward”.
“We need people with passion to run this association. We need people who have been through highs and lows with the association and who can own up to mistakes and decisions as leaders,” Basenyi said in an interview.
He, however, said the last word as to who should lead the association lies with the affiliates, adding that it is the affiliates’ duty to elect people who they believe can lead the association. Unlike others, Basenyi openly admitted he will be seeking election into the office as a coordinator to oversee the smooth coordination between the executive committee, the affiliated clubs as well as the athletes.
Commenting on the issue, the immediate past BAA president, Moses Bantsi, expressed hope that the new committee will be voted according to the expertise they have, not just on whether they are known former athletes.
“There is a saying that a good player does not necessarily make a good coach and I believe that. We must also know positions in the administrative are political and need some expertise, not necessarily sport participation. Technical positions on the other hand require sport participation and should be voted as such,” Bantsi said.
While lamenting that the current events are unfortunate, Bantsi said he is hopeful that athletes will not be affected by the current events. He called upon affiliates to respect the leadership they will vote into power, saying they should appreciate that some of the advice they put through cannot be taken but that does not mean they have to depose the elected committee.
Bantsi, who says he is undecided on whether to stand for re-election, however, says should the affiliates vote him back, he is willing to work with everyone, including those with whom he differs with.
If not elected, the former BAA president says he will not be lost to athletics as he will still see out his tenure as the head of athletics in Southern Africa and as a member of the African executive committee.