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Karate mess cost Bathai BNSC board post

CALISTUS KOLANTSHO
Left out: Bathai PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO
The Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare says Botswana Karate Association (BOKA) president, Tshepho Bathai had to be excluded from the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) board due to issues of maladministration.

Rakgare announced the BNSC board in December, but affiliates were surprised that Bathai was excluded.

The BNSC affiliates had nominated Bathai, together with Dr Khaulani Fichani of tennis. Fichani made it to the board, with karate’s Gift Nkwe replacing Bathai.

Rakgare told Mmegi Sport this week that he excluded Bathai from the board because of issues pending against him.

“Some of the issues against him include maladministration at BOKA and the misuse of the Japanese Embassy grant. We cannot allow anything that threatens bilateral relations between us and the Japanese,” he said.

He pointed out that the Japanese are major players when it comes to sport development in Botswana. Rakgare said the embassy has raised a complaint about the misuse of their grant that is being used to extend the BOKA dojo.

“The BNSC has written letters to different individuals who were involved in the dojo project enquiring about how the funds were used and there is no response,” he said.

Rakgare revealed they were still sorting out the mess and until then, they cannot have Bathai in the board.

“It is unfortunate that he was not informed of the reasons why he was excluded. He is not the only one who might feel misplaced,” Rakgare added.

The minister said he decided to retain Nkwe into the board because of his valuable contribution in the previous term. He said it was also for the sake of continuity. Contacted for comment, Bathai said he would not like to engage the minister through the media.

“I hope one day, we would have an opportunity to discuss the issue. But I am not aware of the allegations against me,” he said.

Bathai said if there were issues of maladministration, action should be taken against him or BOKA grant should be suspended but none of those has happened. He said BOKA is still working with the Japanese Embassy and there is no tension. He also said another batch of funds is

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expected from the Japanese.

“The BNSC always assists affiliates to complete their projects like they did with judo and softball. Look, 10 years back, phase one of the dojo was built at P1, 230,000 now 10 years later, I am expected to build the same structure at P792, 000,” he said.

Meanwhile, Bathai said he did not enquire about the board omission. “I am not interested in finding out what happened and nobody has called me to inform me why I was excluded from the board. Affiliates were also shocked about my exclusion and have been pushing me to enquire about it. So far there is no explanation. It is a wait-and-see game,” Bathai added.

He said maybe BNSC would give affiliates an explanation during the annual general meeting (AGM), whose date has not been announced. The BNSC AGM was postponed in November and a new date is yet to be set.

Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) president, Mothokomedi Thabano said the omission of Bathai came as a shock to them as affiliates. He said they had made their nominations last year.

“We do not know who made the changes and there was no communication to that effect. We expected to be told when changes were made,” he said.

Thabano said the BNSC had sent out a circular requesting affiliates to nominate two additional names, of which no nomination was done, adding that maybe that was the time when they decided to remove Bathai.

Acting BNSC chief executive officer, Bobby Gaseitsiwe distanced the secretariat from the matter saying it was the decision of the ministry.

A source felt that the decision to remove Bathai was due to issues emanating from hosting the 2019 UFAK championships. “Hosting normally comes with issues such as debts. Maybe they want him to clear such things before he could be given a role in the board. He could not be left out without a valid reason,” a source said.



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