The Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) will this coming Saturday vote in an interim committee to take the association to its next elective Annual General Meeting (AGM).
However, following two successive coups that first saw Moses Bantsi deposed, only for his successor Thari Mooketsi to be deposed before the end of four years, many within the BAA are wondering whether things will go back to normal for the association.
It is now an open secret that the association is riddled with factions and many believe that a trend has developed among the BAA affiliates whereby they can at any given time depose a committee even if only for personal vendettas.
Reliable sources within the BAA say that unless a compromise is reached during Saturday’s elective Special General Meeting (SGM), there is a likelihood that the BAA will have yet another unstable committee at the helm.
“What has transpired in the past is that after elections, we always have bitter people who feel left out. As a result, they use any available loophole or discontent within the BAA executive to undermine the Executive Committee and depose it,” a close source said.
According to the source, some of the recent resignations were a result of those who lost out during previous elections conspiring with a disaffected few among the Executive Committee to overthrow the BAA committee.
“Right now, there is a great jostling for positions within the BAA. Some of the very people behind the deposition of the executive committee are now crying foul because they feel that the people who were with them have now overlooked them for positions. Some of them have even gone on to claim that it could have been better had the Executive not been overthrown,” said the source.
The source went on to claim that should Mooketsi decide to stand for elections this coming weekend, he may even go on to win the elections, more especially looking at the divisions within those who overthrew his BAA led executive.
In view of the factions, some of the BAA affiliates agree that a compromise will be needed during the weekend’s elective SGM.
Carlifonia Molefe, who had been against the idea of chopping and changing of committees, said that if possible, there is a need to elect neutrals into the committee to lead it to the next AGM.
“As with any other sporting codes, we have our factions within the BAA. However, the problem with BAA factions is that they are more visible within the BAA NEC to the extent that the committee can’t work together,” Molefe opined.
While differing views should be expected and accepted, Molefe said under the current environment, differences in opinion are viewed negatively and oppressed. He said the problem is not helped by the BAA constitution, which he said is full of loopholes and can be manipulated easily by those seeking to cause chaos within the BAA.
He said there is need for the BAA affiliates to vote into office people who have the capabilities and qualifications and who can work together for the betterment of athletics.
“I feel that of the people who want in on the committee, most of whom are former athletes, would be much more useful as coaches given their experiences. However, given that they feel maligned, they then opt to go into the committees,” he said.
Molefe, a former national team athlete himself, feels that the current setup where people seem to be voted into office on the basis of them having been former athletes is unlikely to work for the BAA in future.
“What I think needs to be done is for us to look at the person’s qualification for the position he seeks before anything else. For maybe other positions like Vice President Technical, yes, former athletes should be priority. For others, background education should be considered,” he said.
Molefe’s arguments were also echoed by another former BAA NEC member, Legojane Kebaitse, who said compromise is needed when voting for the interim committee.
“The incoming committee will have a lot of work to do. Looking at the current situation, I think one of the major challenges will be for the committee to look at the constitution and tighten it as it is filled with loopholes. There will also be a need for them to look at the BAA’s rules and regulations,” Kebaitse said.
He also said the current trend where committees are changed for even the most trivial of offences or personal gain is not healthy for local athletics.
For his part, Glody Dube, who was a member of the recently dissolved committee, said unless something is done to address the loopholes in the constitution, people will continue manipulating it to pursue self interests rather than advance the wider interests of sport.
“If things continue as they are, no matter what the outcome of elections may be, there is bound to be a repetition of this very same problem we are in currently. I think there is need for a review of our constitution to stop this trend,” Dube said. He said in the interest of athletics and athletes, it is only sensible that the BAA NEC and affiliates should work together, and reiterated his position at the recent AGM that situations like the current one affect athletes more than it does administrators, who are past competing in the track or field.
With the 2nd Africa Youth Games in May and the Glasgow Commonwealth Games due thereafter, the former BAA NEC said concentration should have been on preparing athletes for competitions rather than fighting for positions.