Positions in the BFA Central Committee are sought after so much that foot soldiers have been deployed in the various regions to garner votes. Each camp, although they might not readily admit it, has dispatched foot soldiers to start lobbying and seeking support for their preferred candidate. Some of these foot soldiers are well known people in football circles and their power and influence in the regions is legendary. In the past, some of them have even proclaimed that they can even get a monkey to be elected BFA President if they wanted to. That is the power and influence they wield. If they want you, you get it, and if they don’t want you, they get you out. We have seen it in the past immediate elections. To a large extent, these foot soldiers have a say on who the BFA President is. As much as one can deny it, choosing the right foot soldiers to get the seat is crucial.
The BFA Presidential race will pit incumbent David Fani against current BFA Legal Advisor and long time acquaintance Tebogo Sebego. Although they maintain that everything is fine between them, the fact that Sebego has decided to stand against Fani shows that everything is not fine as we have been made to believe. Both men have studied Law and looking at their credentials and profiles, it is safe to say they are learned and able candidates. However their qualities as administrators are what should count the most, or is it? In football, just like in any election, there is great lobbying and in most cases under hand tactics, deceit and empty promises are used to garner votes. False pretense and money exchanging hands is said to be the order of the day. Although we know that these things happen, and money exchanges hands, that can never be proven and this shall forever remain speculation.
There are already reports of unrest, both between and within the two opposing camps. There has been accusations and counter-accusations of both camps not playing fair and using under-hand tactics to lure voters. As the General Assembly approaches, more and more of these allegations and accusations will come to the fore. True or not true, substantiated or unsubstantiated, malicious or not malicious, these accusations will always be there. I have heard about some of the things that people do to get votes, and I must say some of them are downright ‘dirty’. Allegations of blackmail, mafia tactics, intimidations and threats have been bandied about. One just has to read a statement attributed to a certain Reuben Raj Rathedi when he pulled out of the BFA Vice President – Technical race last week. This is a snippet of what he is reported to have said when he announced that he will no longer be standing for elections; ‘It has also emerged that a certain prominent soccer official had wanted to blackmail me (details withheld). The environment was becoming a little hostile for both my 10 year old son and of course my wife. I have therefore decided to respect the request of my family to withdraw from the race. Thank you for your understanding." (Quote from Raj Rathedi’s statement released last week). This really got me thinking and I wondered if all that I have heard about what is going on in the campaign is really true. I had doubted some of the allegations and accusations that have been brought to light as far fetched, but after reading that statement, I have had a rethink. Maybe all these stories I have been hearing, which seem like stanzas from a mafia novel are indeed true. What I have been told is that blackmail, intimidation and threats are the order of the day. I hear that, one has to do this, for him to get that, or else this will happen. Maybe Rathedi is trying to tell us something. I always knew the BFA - All Kasi – Umbro issue would come back in some form or another in this election campaign trail, but I never thought I would hear that some people were blackmailed when the decision on a new technical sponsor was made.
Some of these allegations might be far fetched, but if one thinks about it, there is never smoke without fire, and revelations of the past two weeks show that indeed something is bubbling under. The fact of the matter is that in any election, campaigns sometimes get dirty and at times people do whatever they have to do to get what they want; in this case being votes. I must however say, I hope this is not the case; and those who are running for positions are basing their campaign on what they will do for Botswana football and not what they will do for those individuals who vote for them at the General Assembly. As I said earlier, the two gentlemen who are standing for the Presidency ke banna ba molao, ba ba tlhaloganyang molao, and I don’t think they would resort to illegal, mafia-type under hand tactics to woo voters. I have confidence that they will campaign clean and base their campaigns of what they intend to do for Botswana football going forward.
As much as Batswana have exhibited their disdain for how things are under the current system led by David Fani, those many Batswana don’t vote at the General Assembly. It is representatives of the various BFA regions who vote, and it is their vote that counts. We might sit in Gaborone and post on Facebook everyday that 'FANI HAS TO GO', but at the end of the day that counts for nothing. Fani and Sebego just have to convince the delegates from the different regions and they will be BFA President come July. Both men have able campaign teams led by men and women, some of whom I know personally and I know are men and women of integrity. Atleast as far as I know. I just hope these allegations of blackmail, intimidation and mafia tactics remain as such and have no truth in them. Let’s play fair ladies and gentlemen and may the best team win.