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.
Local hockey body to incur massive financial loss post Covid-19
Botswana Hockey Association (BHA) President Unaswi Matebu has confessed that her Association will suffer major financial losses post the Covid 19 pandemic that has left the sport fraternity at a standstill.
Matebu recently told this publication that the current situation does not only have tremendous effects on their schedule, but also there will be financial implications more especially that the association does not have full time sponsors.
“We had to cancel most of our calendar activities such as tournaments, national team trainings, Board meetings, and club activities since mid-March this year, all of which have cost us money to prepare for,” Matebu remarked in an interview.
Additionally she said the planning phase for their 5-year Development Plan which was supposed to be launched in June will have to be postponed. Also there are national competitions that were postponed till further notice despite them having already set up teams and having already started preparing.
“Our Indoor Hockey Senior National teams had already started preparations for the Africa Cup of Nations – a World Cup qualifier – that was supposed to be held in June, 2020, in South Africa. Our Field Hockey Senior National teams had already begun preparations for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers that were supposed to be held in August, 2020 in Zimbabwe,” she added.
Moreover, it was going to be an excessively detailed and decorated year for local hockey governing body, with the Youth National teams having already began preparations for the Africa Youth Championships that were billed for September, 2020, in Ghana.
“Player conditioning has obviously been affected because athletes are currently not training as planned and what we had achieved so far might go to waste. We are only hoping that the Continental and World Hockey governing bodies will give us enough time to prepare for these competitions post the pandemic.”
BFA will not declare the season null and void – yet
Amidst wide spreading fears that Botswana’s top flight league might be canceled and considered null and void because of the crippling Covid-19 pandemic, the Botswana Football Association (BFA) has yet to make a determination on the matter and has in fact ruled out scrapping off the season altogether.
Local football observers and pundits alike have already started talking of the possibilities after similar considerations of nullifying their seasons were made in the leagues of other countries especially in Europe. No football activity has taken place in the country since social distancing measures were imposed to avoid the spread of the corona virus.
Local football pundit Fabian Zulu is one of those who believe there is a likelihood the football season will be nullified. “If the current situation persists, then there is a high possibility of declaring the league null and void. This situation wasn’t planned, no one knew that by now we would be facing this kind of situation; so the possibility is very high.
However, in an interview this week, BFA spokesperson Tumo Mpatane said the association has not considered canceling and nullifying the season as an option yet, adding that “currently we are observing a period of extreme social distancing, the ministry of health and wellness will obviously give advice on the possibility of getting back to football.”
Consequently the BFA still awaits the Ministry to declare that the risks of spreading the virus are reduced and come up with a contingency plan. “If the ministry says there is a reduced health risk we will play out the season; if they advise against it we will then see what steps to take. The health of our players is more important and we will be guided by the responsive authorities,” Mpatane remarked.
However, suspension or cancellation of the leagues across the world seems inevitable even as some European leagues, more specifically the English Premier League, are now contemplating a behind-closed-doors campaign to finish off the remaining matches.
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