The Ides of March’ is the date best known for the assassination of the main protagonist Julius Caesar by Brutus and Cassius in the famous Shakespearean tragedy – ‘Julius Caesar’.
This literary masterpiece best describes the recent political demise of former Botswana Premier League (BPL) chairman Walter Kgabung and his deputy Solomon Mantswe. The two were unceremoniously removed from their positions following a fateful BPL Board of Governors meeting on 26th March following allegations of financial embezzlement.
The pair was not the only casualty as BPL Chief Executive Officer Bennet Mamelodi also found himself in the line of heavy artillery fire. This week both Kgabung, who is Township Rollers’ chairman and Mantswe (Police XI) chairman, called an impromptu press conference in Gaborone to clear their good names.
“We called this press conference, for the purpose of which was mainly influenced by the desire on our part to share our side of the story regarding the circumstances leading to our removal,” Kgabung told the newshounds.
“It is common cause that the Board of Governors met at a meeting on 26th March, as part of a scheduled governance process where strategic decisions are discussed and decided upon in the furtherance of the premier league.”
The former chairman, who insisted that he was neither seeking reinstatement nor taking legal action against his tormentors, said part of the meeting discussed the issue of financial grants to premier league clubs.
“It had become apparent that preceding the meeting that even though at the material time, the premier league had not overspent its budget, projections indicated that because of failure to realise financial inflows from projected income generating streams, the league would be over the budget by P6 million at year end.”
According to Kgabung, the board was quick to put the blame on not only him but his deputy for alleged misuse and embezzlement of premier league money. Moreover, Kgabung who seemingly views the whole episode as politically motivated, said he was further accused of securing a P900 000 loan with Township Rollers investor Jagdish Shah to distribute among some teams in the premier league and thus giving the beneficiaries an unfair advantage.
“In addition there was talk that I had authorised the use of the Premier league official letterhead to support requests by clubs to solicit financial assistance from Mr Shah.” Kgabung said the Board went on to remove him and Mantswe even though they had no constitutional power to do so. The Board further suspended the CEO of the Premier League Bennet Mamelodi with immediate effect, even though he was not in attendance at the material time.
“Our sole reason is to officially respond to the actions of our fellow board members and buttress our position that the process that was followed to remove us was unlawful and inconsistent with constitutional provision of the Botswana Football Association (BFA).”
Speaking during the same occasion, Solomon Mantswe said being removed from their positions does not mean they were no longer Board members of the BPL. “We remain surprised because the BFA constitution does not allow the board to take such decisions, they can only make recommendations,” Mantswe said.
Moreover, Mantswe said he was previously called upon by some board members to oust Kgabung, which he refused.
Volleyball coach explains selection of national team
Botswana Volleyball Federation (BVF) national team coach Kabo Ntshinogang says winning a league performance award does not guarantee national team call up.
Ntshinogang was responding to complaints made by some players recently that the national team squad is decided on favoritism and not merit. To their surprise, some players that were honored for exceptional play in the 2018 Mascom league were missing from the preliminary national team list that was released by the federation recently. The national team is preparing for the All Africa games qualifiers to be held in Mozambique later this month.
“Yes it is true, not all who were honored by Mascom last year made it into the team. Winning an award does not book a seat in the national team, a lot of things go into being selected as national team material,” Ntshinogang said this week.
The coach in charge of the ladies’ team explained that in some instances, a player can score many points in one particular game while a more talented player might have been absent on the day.
That, he said could make other talented players fail to collect points and catch up, as every game is different.
“We use the league to gauge performance however, we can never all agree on who is best suited a place in the national team. Difference in opinions will always come in and perhaps provide a healthy debate,” the coach said.
Ntshinogang added that if he indeed used favoritism to pick his team then his side of Mafolofolo Club would be dominating the list. Nevertheless, Kutlwano players are the ones with a large number of players at national team level. On the men side, assistant coach Kealeboga Mmekwane said that contrary to negative reports he came across, Kesaobaka Lenkopane of BDF XI, who was the 2018 league best setter has been invited to training but has not showed up yet.
“He was omitted from the list yes but we have since contacted his coach that the player should join the national team during training,” he said. Mmekwane continued to note that another omitted name was Meffery Chindumbo who is a foreigner and could not be called for national team duty. He revealed that they look into matters such as height, skill and the defence ability when they select their preferred team.
He explained that it was hard picking names and they were forced to rely on past experiences. “There is no league and we had to think hard to come up with a competitive team,” he said. For their first training, Mmekwane noted that the players are all a bit rusty as they are returning from a long break, saying some have even gained weight. He however expressed confidence that they will qualify for the games as they have over the years established themselves as a powerhouse in the region.
Marape increases Botswana’s medal tally
Women Fide Master (WFM) Naledi Marape dazzled at the just ended Zone 4.3 championships held in Madagascar. She brought home a bronze medal.
The 2019 edition was the young Marape’s second zonal competition having finished on 5th position in Mozambique last year. Nevertheless, she emerged all hell bent to leave an impressive mark in Madagascar as she defeated highly ranked players to increase Botswana ‘s medal tally.
Marape emulated winning ways of Women International Master (WIM) Onkemetse Francis who finished in second position, grabbing a silver medal. Francis returned to the Chessboard following a short break from the game, itching to defend her 2018 bronze medal. She would however go up the ranks and give way for the developing star that is Marape.
It seems Marape drew inspiration from the experienced side of Francis and rightly put her foot down. The Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) spokesperson Kutlwano Tatolo explained that Marape is actually chasing her first Olympiad appearance next year.
“She has been doing well and one of the best youth players, however, competition is very stiff and she will need to work extra hard to improve her game,” she said. Tatolo described Marape as a player still full of energy and thirsty for success saying her level of growth in the game was promising.
However, Marape began the year on a low note and actually lost out on forming part of the ten Metropolitan Championships ladies’ finalists, thus the urge to keep busy drove her to international excellence.
The BCF had sent only one female representative to Madagascar however, Marape and another youth side in Women Candidate Master (WCM) Natalie Banda sponsored themselves to attend the zonal competition. Banda, who was making a debut at the tournament, finished in an impressive 8th position and she was given a trophy for being the youngest participant at the tournament.
Meanwhile, Fide Master (FM) Phemelo Khetho who recently won the Metropolitan championship failed to defend his 2018 silver medal in the open section but instead dropped to position 13.
His counterpart International Master (IM) Providence Oatlhotse, finished on the 6th place.
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