TK leaves unfinished business

Khama resigned as minister on Wednesday. PIC: PHATSIMO KAPENG
Khama resigned as minister on Wednesday. PIC: PHATSIMO KAPENG

When President Mokgweetsi Masisi appointed Tshekedi 'TK' Khama to the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture
Development, there was optimism for change.

But Khama hardly lasted, despite promises to turn the situation around. He had pledged sweeping changes, including revising the model of funding for codes. But after he quit on Wednesday, sports will be left hanging, as he had not fulfilled his promises.

Just a few hours into office, Khama was met with a resignation letter from the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) chairperson, Solly Reikeletseng. 

The minister had asked Reikeletseng to reconsider his position following personal issues.  The BNSC board’s term in office has elapsed and the minister was expected to have long appointed new members.  There was word in the corridors that the delay was because Khama’s future at the ministry was uncertain.

BNSC has its own challenges, as it is going through a restructuring exercise, likely to result in retrenchments. Sport funding has remained a perennial headache for the sports ministry, but Khama had promised to reshuffle priorities, and give the larger chunk of the budget to performing codes.

He had proposed a new model of funding whereby a tier system would be introduced. Reacting to TK’s departure, Botswana Basketball Association president, Boineelo Hardy said it was a sad time for sport.

“It is a tender and critical time for sport. The minister was at the centre of some decisions,” she said.

Hardy said Khama left at a time when a decision on the appointment of National Sport Associations board representatives, was still pending.

She said the acting board chairperson is overdue. “The board term has been extended because it was awaiting the minister’s decision on the board chairperson. Already there was reshuffle at BNSC when Thapelo Olopeng left. We thought now we were at a turning point. The minister had a few months to make those decisions,” Hardy said.

“Who would come in and how would they make that decision?” she asked.

Hardy said it is a sensitive period, as a new board has to be appointed. Botswana Athletics Association president, Paphane Botlhale said Khama was an understanding person.

Botlhale added that the ex-minister wanted performance-based funding as well
as the adoption of star athletes by key institutions in the private sector, as a way of developing and nurturing of talent. He said the resignation is setback for sport in general.

“At BAA, I had already met with him and he had promised to assist us. I think the minister should be separated from politics otherwise there would be no progress in developing the country at large,” he said.

Special Olympics Botswana president, Ross Tebele said Khama wanted disabilities sport to be given enough funding and was prepared to go an extra mile to assist. 

“We are not sure if his promises would be a reality. His resignation is a blow to disability sport.”

Tebele said Khama was approachable and even had time to address issues outside formal settings. He too opined that maybe it is high time ministers are appointed outside politics.

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