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Zakhem rebuffs BFA over GU crisis talks

MQONDISI DUBE
GU is searching for answers after a cripling crisis PIC: KENNEDY RAMOKONE
The Botswana Football Association (BFA) has been asked to intervene in order to bring Gaborone United’s (GU) Committee of Elders and former investor, Nicholas Zakhem to the negotiating table.

However, the soccer mother body is likely to face resistance as Zakhem has argued that there is no need for mediation since no deadlock nor a dispute exist.

Zakhem sent a proposal to the committee but said there has been no response to discuss the document. On the other hand, the Committee of Elders argues that Zakhem has not been keen on negotiations. As a result, the committee has asked the BFA to intervene.

“The unfortunate part is that I have no clue what they (BFA) are mediating for,” Zakhem said yesterday.“I will not attend as there is no agenda. I do not know what they are mediating on.”

BFA public relations and marketing officer, Tumo Mpatane said the association had requested to meet the two parties in a bid to find solutions.

“I can confirm that we have written to both parties concerned at GU, indicating that we want to facilitate mediation. We are the guardians of the game and we feel we must intervene to ensure football is the winner at the end of the day,” Mpatane said. GU are in a financial crisis and were recently docked three points over their failure to pay $39,500 (P400, 000) owed to former player, Bismarck Appiah.

The club has said part of the fine has been paid as the September 26 deadline looms, or The Reds face possible relegation to the First Division.

“We believe that GU must be assisted to safe guard the reputation of local football,” Mpatane said. Asked why Zakhem had been brought into the mediation, Mpatane said he was a card carrying member of the club and a former investor.

Zakhem had been requested to assist sponsor the club, but he has made it clear that he can only come in as an investor.

Committee of Elders member, Tymon Katlholo said they had sought BFA’s intervention, as it was

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apparent that there is no progress in talks.

“There is a provision in the BFA constitution for such mediation. Zakhem does not give us the opportunity to discuss meaningfully, that is why we have asked the BFA to intervene,” Katlholo said.

He said there was no tension between the committee and Zakhem, but they are following the constitution.Katlholo said after Zakhem had sent his proposal, seeking to run the team as an investor for the next 15 years, the committee came up with a counter proposal.“We told him that we had seen his proposal and that we should meet to discuss but he did not come,” Katlholo said.

He said Zakhem’s proposal would mean that the club has to be dissolved as a society first.

“Such a dispensation is unlawful. It would mean we have to dissolve the club first and come up with a new structure,” Katlholo said.

He accused Zakhem of ‘inciting’ and going to third parties instead of negotiating with the committee.  “We cannot be negotiating through the media,” Katlholo said.He denied that there is mistrust between the committee and Zakhem.

“Our mandate is simple. We are managing the situation at the club, and then call for elections to elect a substantive committee. We will remain in the background, in an advisory role, thereafter. We are following the constitution,” he said.

Katlholo added that the committee is dealing with a mess that was not of their making.

He said there were other partners willing to come on board, and the GU financial situation could be addressed. “The (FIFA) debt would have been cleared had it not been for this unnecessary noise. We are prepared to give Zakhem the benefit of the doubt, which is why we have engaged the BFA.”

He said the FIFA fines have been settled, and part of what is owed to Appiah was paid.



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