Angry marathon runners have come out guns blazing against the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA), with their bone of contention being ‘dodgy’ race organisers. They say the BAA has failed them, leaving the athletes at the mercy of race organisers.
Disappointed runners poured their frustrations to Mmegi Sport this week, arguing, no one cared to listen to their plight.
Some athletes are unpaid after the recent Mayor’s Marathon, held more than a month ago. To date, the athletes have been forced to pace up and down the corridors of the Gaborone City Council (GCC) corridors in search of payment, or at least answers. Shepherd Kenatshele said the BAA has failed them despite numerous attempts to get assistance from the association. He said the BAA should be in position to audit bank accounts of race organisers before giving them the task to handle a race.
“At the moment, we are suffering but BAA officials are benefiting. They are paid for officiating. That is why they relax when we have not been paid,” he said.
Kenatshele said something is fishy about the Mayor’s Marathon because athletes from Zimbabwe were disqualified after getting lost. He said it was not their fault because the route did not have marshals and proper procedure was not followed in disqualifying the two female athletes. He said locals were able to navigate the route on their own because they are familiar with surroundings.
Women’s race winner, Onneile Dintwe said the mayor, Kagiso Thutwe had informed them that they would be paid on Tuesday. She said there was no communication from Thutwe informing them about changes regarding payments. Dintwe, who is owed P50,000, said as athletes they had to use their resources following up on payment.
“We are tired of this game that is played. We now want to meet the race sponsor. I was surprised when
Thutwe reprimanded Dintwe saying if she went ahead and met the sponsor, he was not going to pay them. She wondered what the mayor meant when he said the payments would be deposited in their bank accounts without having requested the athletes to provide the details.
Responding to the allegations, Thutwe told Mmegi Sport that the athletes were not honest. He said there were delays in payments because one of the signatories was out of the country.
“The signatory is coming back over the weekend. We would then come up with a plan to pay the athletes,” he said.
Another athlete, Gaone Bathoeng said it is not the first time that they have been treated this way. She said to date, they have not received payments for the 2014 Phikwe Marathon. She said they have given up on ever getting the money.
“We tried to make a follow-up and BAA instructed us to write letters. We did that, nothing happened. We are going in cycles,” the disappointed Bathoeng said.
BAA vice president, Kenneth Kikwe said it was still too early for the athletes to be complaining about non-payment from the Mayor’s Marathon. He said the BAA has not received any formal complaint about non-payment.
“Athletes must go through their clubs and clubs are the ones which are allowed to lodge complaints with us. We are yet to meet with the organisers of Mayor’s Marathon to get a report on how the marathon went,” he said.
Kikwe said the challenge was that BAA has no control over privately arranged marathons.