BFA: What went wrong?


The Botswana Football Association (BFA) has found itself at the centre of unwanted attention over financial irregularities involving millions of pula. The issue has sent speculation into overdrive as to what exactly transpired which has left BFA president, Maclean Letshwiti admitting it is his lowest moment since taking charge in 2016. In a Question and Answer (Q&A) interview, with Mmegi Sport Staff Writer, MQONDISI DUBE the BFA president admits the damaging issue could have been averted

Mmegi Sport: There has been all talk about missing funds, please tell us what transpired? Letshwiti: What transpired is that there is no money missing. When FIFA funds an association, the funding comes with rules and regulations and one of those rules is that the money cannot be used for any other purpose than the one intended for.

What has happened is that the money is not missing, the money has been used for purposes not intended for and there was no permission sought to do so, whereas it could have been very simple to say we don’t have money to undertake this particular project like flying the national team somewhere.

All you have to say is that we don’t have money to do this, however, there is money in other votes and therefore we are seeking permission to utilise those funds.

You then go on a process; the first process is for NEC to approve, which is not a final approval and then the final request will be made to FIFA. FIFA can say yes or no. This is known to everyone who deals with funding.

Mmegi Sport: One might want to understand; how long has this been going on in terms of taking money from other votes?

Letshwiti: Since around April (2021) to date.

Mmegi Sport: Then one might ask, Letshwiti is the BFA president but he has not been aware of this all along?Letshwiti: The president delegates authority and if he is not informed of these things, how will he know? People are given responsibility which they must execute legitimately and in a proper manner. The onus is on them and the responsibility is on them to do the right thing.

Mmegi Sport: But doesn’t the president frequently check the very purse of the association he runs?

Letshwiti: Isn’t there are reports...yes that could be it (that there should be frequent checks) but there is a layer of people who are supposed to check that. It is not for the president to investigate and all that. The president is to be given information to talk to.

Mmegi Sport: You are saying money was diverted for unintended purposes, we have already seen the suspension of the CEO, are we likely to see more heads roll?Letshwiti: A disciplinary process will go on, that will determine, it’s not for me. All I am saying is that money was used for purposes than that intended and without authority to do so.

Mmegi Sport: In this case, what’s the best and worst case scenarios for BFA?Letshwiti: The best case scenario is for them (FIFA) to understand the circumstances that led to that and the fact that we came forth aas soon as we discovered the anomaly we informed them. It’s not that this thing happened because there were no policies and procedures in place. It’s just blatant flagrant flouting of the regulations. The worst is for Botswana to be put on restricted funding where you are given a little bit to do something. That’s the worst scenario. FIFA is not about to totally punish. They have to be convinced that the next funding will be used appropriately as dictated by FIFA.

Mmegi Sport: There are figures thrown around, how much is really involved?

Letshwiti: It is P6million from FIFA, which is our biggest problem because FIFA is our biggest funder, so if they restrict us, it is going to be very difficult to efficiently run the organisation.

Mmegi Sport: And then what about the P8.8million?Letshwiti: That is money spent but not budgeted for, or money spent that is not there.

Mmegi Sport: What is the financial status of BFA, considering that there was no money to an extent that hands were dipped in other votes?Letshwiti: There were a lot of activities that were legit. That’s not the issue. The question is not what they used money for. The simple thing is that when you need to buy a vote, you need permission, because the consequences are far reaching.

Mmegi Sport: What is the reason for taking money without seeking permission, if you asked those who did so?Letshwiti: They say it was important to do those things and no one disputes that, only that what they did is not allowed; it’s prohibited. They should have sought authority, it’s simple and straight forward.

Mmegi Sport: How much do you think this dents confidence in the BFA and yourself?

Letshwiti: Anything of this nature is not a good thing to happen. But these things do happen depending on who you put in charge. From here, we have learnt that there has to be tight controls.

In terms of compliance we have been doing well, probably we went to sleep. Only corrective action will restore the trust. Everywhere people do these things. They steal and break rules, but the question is; what do you do when this happens.

Mmegi Sport: Is BFA broke?Letshwiti: BFA is not broke, like any other organisation we have a tight budget. But in two months or so we will back on track. We are looking at alternatives to address this properly.

Mmegi Sport: What are those alternatives?Letshwiti: The alternatives are to do things properly and check whether funds are available to us where we can tap into.

Mmegi Sport: Did the NEC support your decision to report yourselves (BFA) to FIFA?

Letshwiti: Of course they had to because this is a sensitive matter that involves FIFA. You don’t want them to find out without us alerting them.

Mmegi Sport: When you came in, there was hope that a businessperson has come in, does this incident shake you?Letshwiti: Of course this will be the lowest in my career at BFA. But it’s all got to do with the quality of people you have.

Mmegi Sport: What will this incident do to the overall harmony at the BFA?Letshwiti: I think if you have to change BFA, you have to change the people, and it is exactly what we want to do. We need new career minded people. To arrest the problem, you have to change the culture.

Mmegi Sport: What if people at the NEC point at you and say you must resign?Letshwiti: That is their choice.

Mmegi Sport: Is this incident not just a tip of the iceberg and there are bigger issues than this?Letshwiti: I don’t think so because we know where the money went. There could be little incidences here and there. FIFA people will come and scrutinise every thebe spent. If there is anything they will bring it out. But I am convinced it is not theft, it was just diverting money without authority.

Mmegi Sport: How much will this affect intended projects?Letshwiti: It will obviously affect us but life has to go on and programmes have to carry on. For instance some of the money from the COVID-19 relief funds was meant to have 5-a-side pitches, this means we won’t have them.

People are very sorry, it is a very unfortunate situation, but it’s not the worst. We are now aware that we have to tighten the screws.

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