Saturday, May 28, 2022

The Rise and Fall of Mashlow Motlogelwa

How have the mighty fallen! On Thursday, Botswana Football Association (BFA) president Maclean Letshwiti relented to his first vice president Pelotshweu Marshlow Motlogelwa’s request to resign from his position.

After days of holding out the request and trying to persuade his erstwhile right-hand man to reconsider, the BFA president had to relent. For the football followers and administrators, Motlogelwa’s resignation was met with both derision and joy, depending where one stands.

For whatever reason, it seems that like Greek mythology’s Icarus, the now former BFA first vice president who had proverbial wax wings had flown too close to the sun, seeking not to take the cautionary route taken by his president Letshwiti. And like Daedelus, Letshwiti could only watch as the sun melted Motlogelwa’s wax stuck wings, sending him to an early demise.

Motlogelwa’s rise to power dates back to 2016 when, as the then member of the Tebogo Sebego led BFA National Executive Committee (NEC), he plotted the latter’s downfall and supported Letshwiti. Powered by the financial muscle of Gaborone United financier Nicholas Zakhem, the Letshwiti-Motlogelwa axis won.

What the axis failed to recognize back then was that by sacrificing morality for the entrapment of power and taking the financial backing of Zakhem, they were building a minotaur like monster. It was only later that they realized they could not satisfy their minotaur’s appetite.

Despite this, as the 2020 BFA elections came, the Letshwiti-Motlogelwa axis continued to feed their minotaur to devour their opposition as they climbed their way to power. “It was a win at all cost race and we had to everything possible to win. What we did not realise at the time was that we were building a monster,” one insider close to the BFA president reminisced.

With the elections now past, Zakhem, it seems, lusted for more glory, power and control, which the BFA seemed not ready to do. In an instant, the minotaur in him went for the jugular and started tearing into the BFA. Seeking to calm him and build a labyrinth to control him, the Letshwiti-Motlogelwa axis gave him all the power he sought. Now, they were trapped in the labyrinth along with him. This Motlogelwa would come to realise as he sought to stand toe to toe with Zakhem.

These audacious attempts to stand against Zakhem resulted in concerted efforts to take him out. These came to the fore as the BFA found itself caught in the ‘misallocation of funds’ saga which has resulted with the firing of the association Secretary General Goabaone Taylor.

Already, there have been three attempts to take out Motlogelwa and in all that he had survived. With Taylor now fired however, the heat was now back on the former first vice president as the one tasked with oversight of Taylor and the BFA finances.

Having failed in previous attempts to get rid of the BFA first vice president, Zakhem flexed his muscles. Armed with more support within the BFA NEC than the Letshwiti-Motlogelwa axis, it was open season once again and Motlogelwa was the target.

“The plan was for a motion to suspend Motlogelwa to be tabled. Knowing that Zakhem had the numbers in the NEC for the motion to suspend him to pass, Motlohelwa knew he would lose and he resigned.”

“The truth is that Zakhem is in control of both the BFA NEC and the Botswana Football League (BFL),” a BFA NEC member close to Letshwiti said. “He just orders anyone to jump and all we do is ask how high. Motlogelwa was the only person who tried to stand up against him but it was all futile. This is why he is now taking the fall,” the source said.

Reached for comment, Motlogelwa said he opted to jump before he could be suspended. He said as it stands, he had more to lose if he allowed himself to be suspended for ‘funds misallocation’ when he knew the power of numbers and not the truth was being used to pursue him.

Reiterating what he wrote in his resignation letter to the BFA president, he said allowing himself to be suspended would have put a stain in his career as a chartered accountant.

“When the false accusations started heating up, I had a query from Botswana Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) asking for clarification. The only thing that saved me was that I am not operational in the BFA but rather on the oversight role,” he explained.

“Having considered all these as well as the harm it would have had in my professional career, I felt my position within football was no longer tenable. I had to resign,” he said.

Meanwhile, the fall of Motlogelwa is said to leave Letshwiti on shaky ground as the BFA president. With just one or two NEC members on his side following his vice president’s resignation, Letshwiti is now said to be at the mercy of Zakhem.

“We have lost our grip of the NEC as well as the regions. This leaves Letshwiti in a position where if a motion of no confidence is tabled as I suspect it may be at the next BFA General Assembly, he will be relieved of his presidency,” said a source.

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