Be all embracing Mr President

First citizen: President Masisi with the Botswana team at State House PIC: PHATSIMO KAPENG
First citizen: President Masisi with the Botswana team at State House PIC: PHATSIMO KAPENG

After the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, President Mokgweetsi Masisi invited Team Botswana to his official residence, the State House. Last week, it was Nijel Amos’ turn to visit the State House. While the invitations are noble, Staff Writer, CALISTUS KOLANTSHO in this instalment of Whither Botswana Sport, argues the country’s first citizen could do more for sports

When team Botswana left for the Olympics in July, there was a medal target of two but the team settled for bronze through the men’s 4x400m relay team, which was a commendable effort. The bronze sparked wild celebrations and fittingly the red carpet was rolled for the team. It was only right for the team to receive a heroes’ welcome upon return. The team, together with their coaches, got the rare opportunity to meet the President. The invitation was not extended to National Sport Associations’ (NSA) leadership which had representatives in Tokyo.

A month later, the Under-20 team brought some medals from the World Athletics Junior Championships and they were due to visit the State House. But the visit was cancelled at the 11th hour. Last week, Amos accompanied by former athlete and coach, Raj Rathedi stepped into the State House.

“We discussed a lot of issues on how we can improve and support our sporting codes,” Masisi said through his social media page after the meeting.

One would have thought, Isaac Makwala who was the driving force behind the success of the relay team, would also be invited to the State House. Amantle Montsho (Victor-Nkape) who has announced her retirement from athletics has also not been given the platform of sharing a meal with the President.

However, during the Olympics team visit, the President was informed about Montsho’s retirement. It would be comforting to embrace all, or hopefully, Montsho and Makwala’s invitations are being typed or have been sent out.

My view is that selective invitations could harm athletes’ morale. Ideally, I want to see the President engage or interact with sports codes.

Maybe I should give the President the benefit of the doubt as even the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare has never addressed sport leaders.

Masisi sat down with Amos and they discussed issues to do with sport strategies.

On the other hand, Rathedi oversees rich sports facilities at the University of Botswana (UB). NSAs pay through their noses to utilise them. Some of them owe the institution after hosting championships at the UB Indoor Sports Centre. He could have used the visit to try and request the President to find a way of cushioning NSAs.

It is obvious UB uses the facilities to generate revenue but sporting codes are broke. It is better for them to use the facilities at a discounted rate than facilities turning into white elephants.

Mr President, the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) is under review and it would be presented to Parliament after your State of the Nation Address.

The act gives the minister power to fire sport leadership when he did not elect them. This takes away the codes’ voting power. It is something you can look at Mr President, although I am pretty aware of your demanding schedule.

The exercise will be intended to articulate the relationship that the commission will have with other bodies that are in the business of sport, including the Botswana National Olympic and Paralympic Committee (BNOPC) and the National Anti-Doping Organisation (NADO). For example, mandate registration with BNOPC by all NSAs, including BNOPC for recognition and funding.

“Clearly state the powers of the minister responsible for sport in relation to the director of sport in the ministry responsible for sport in relation to the BNSC. The minister and or PS should have powers to expel leadership of the NSAs (subject to constitutions of the relevant international confederations) and appoint interim structures,” reads the draft.

The act will spell out responsibilities for policy, regulation and implementation. It has to be clear that the BNSC is the implementing arm of the Department of Sport and Recreation. The director should have powers to order the development of standards in relation to governance of NSAs. The act should clearly state the powers of the commission in relation to other organisations it regulates and coordinates. “It has to be clear in law actions that can be taken against NSAs that do not comply with the requirements and conditions of their affiliation to the BNOPC. This should also apply to officials that hold positions in the NSAs,” the draft further reads.

The act will state the role and powers of the commission in relation to the disbursement of resources (financial and otherwise) to BNOPC.

It comes at a time when sport is struggling, which has been exacerbated by the outbreak of the coronavirus. Some activities have resumed after the lifting of a ban on sport. School report remains suspended Mr President.

A Joint Task Team (JTT) was established and was meant to carry out a comprehensive review of sport development and competition in schools through appropriate methodologies. The report has been submitted to the relevant Ministries but it remains locked up somewhere.

NSAs have refused to be part of this instalment despite burning questions and clearly, sport needs you Mr President.

Editor's Comment
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Wearing of masks behind closed doors has been mandatory following the government’s August decision that the public was freed from masking in outdoor spaces.According to a press statement from the ministry, all other remaining COVID-19 protocols such as social distancing in schools and requirements for vaccination or PCR tests at ports of entry have also been relaxed.Statistics still show that hundreds still die daily due to the pandemic around...

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