Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Tempers flare at BAA general meeting

Few meetings descend into furious, expletive-laden exchanges with clenched fisted members asking to be allowed outside the meeting room to sort out their adversaries. But then, there was nothing ordinary about the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) Ordinary General Meeting over the weekend: Members treaded the finest of lines between derangement and all too sane fury that would make a full-on bar-room brawl look like a minor hand bagging.

The meeting which seemed like a scene from Cartoon Network inspired some members who in a rare moment of comic relief came up with vernacular nouns like “Mantlwane” or “Diketo” (which literally translates to childish games) to describe the scene which would have been pantomime knockabout staff were it not for the bloodlust.

The meeting was adjourned after more than six hours of haggling. The tone for the day’s turbulent proceedings was set early in the morning as the OGM was asked to adopt the day’s agenda. A heated war of words, however, erupted between members who called for a motion of no confidence against BAA President Thari Mooketsi and those who backed his presidency.

The exchange was interrupted by BAA Vice President Technical Glody Dube who called for cool heads before the meeting could descend into physical confrontations. Dube’s call was echoed by Tladinyana who chastised members for ‘not growing up while athletics and athletes were growing.’ The advice however fell on deaf ears as the exchange nearly boiled over when a representative from Mmadinare Athletics Club, one of the clubs calling for Mooketsi’s head, questioned the legitimacy of one Lefatshe, – a supporter of Mooketsi’s Presidency- as representative of Jwaneng Athletics Club (JAC) at the OGM.

The Jwaneng Athletics Club did not take kindly to the accusation: “O a re tlwaela, ga re ditsala tsa gagwe,” (he is disrespecting us) one member of the JAC responded as the exchange heated up and words crossed paths.

The response only angered the representative who called on the president to rebuke the JAC member. “Ke kopa o kgalemele mosimanyana o,” he responded. “O a re tlwaela,” the response from JAC came back. The member who had lost his temper shouted: “Ke kopa o re ntshetse ko ntle le mosimanyana o,” (pleases allow us outside, I want to sort out this small boy). At this stage, they were like barrow boys next to each other and as the shouting match continued, the representative went out, slightly threatening the JAC representative; “I’ll sort you out,” waging his finger as he passed near him.

The JAC member would finally go on to apologise for the ‘mess,’ stating that it was unfortunate to have happened. The JAC representative however queried why the representative to had questioned Lefatshe’s eligibility while he had been representing the club for a long time. Somewhere between the haggling, the OGM would finally adopt the agenda, amongst it a call for a motion of no confidence on Mooketsi, albeit after more than an hour of heated debates. The motion, which was championed by three clubs: Maun BDF, Orapa Athletics Club and Mmadinare was then debated, with the affiliates finally agreeing to vote on it. Even then, confusion arose as both the executive and affiliates alike seemed not know how the vote should be conducted. After long debates, the OGM agreed that all 26 club representatives in attendance should vote. The vote would see Mooketsi surviving after the motion fell short by 3 votes to meet the required two thirds majority for Mooketsi to be removed. Mooketsi’s triumph was however short-lived as his opponents questioned the voting procedure. The opponents, led by Orapa called for the voting to be repeated, saying only one vote per club present is constitutional. The move sparked a fresh war of words as those supporting Mooketsi said the results of the vote should be accepted while his opponents refused. In the exchange that followed, Orapa, supported by Francistown Athletics Club moved for the meeting to be adjourned, something which Tlokweng Athletics and JAC opposed. With no resolution in sight, Mooketsi overruled the move by Orapa for the OGM to be adjourned and stated that the meeting would continue.

The BAA president then called for a 5 minutes recess, from which he called for the OGM adjournment after the executive found the tension too unbearable for the meeting to proceed.


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