BFA’s P8.8m dilemma

Challenging times: Lekidi Football Centre PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO
Challenging times: Lekidi Football Centre PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO

The Botswana Football Association (BFA) is facing probably its toughest period in recent years, amid reports of financial mismanagement involving P8.8m.

The association has invited the world governing body, FIFA to carry out an audit and ascertain whether the money was used for the intended purpose and if the right procedures were followed.

The funds were reportedly meant for women’s projects and COVID-19 relief funds. Reports indicate FIFA officials are due in the country this week. BFA president, Maclean Letshwiti reportedly wrote to FIFA to help solve the dilemma and saw the association’s chief executive officer, Susan Taylor suspended in December. Sources say the funds were used for the day-to-day running of the association, which has warranted FIFA's attention. This includes payment of salaries and national team activities. A letter, purportedly written by Taylor to Letshwiti suggests some deep-rooted challenges at Lekidi Centre. Taylor reportedly authored the report just a few weeks before her suspension in December. Chief among Taylor’s concerns was lack of support from the National Executive Committee (NEC). “I am counting on the support of the NEC to work with me and support proposals that I put before them so that they can be fulfilled.

At the moment I feel the NEC looks at me as if I have all solutions to the needs of the association to the extent that when I seek their support, I am met with more questions than answers despite the NEC being the strategic arm of the Association and me being the implementer of those strategic decisions. The NEC needs to recognise that we are a team and that we need to work together for the success of the association,” read parts of the report.

Taylor also expressed her frustration with regards to delays in implementing the restructuring exercise, where she was seemingly blamed for the slow process. She said the association will remain as strong or as weak as the people that work for it and if the restructuring process continues to be delayed, not much will be achieved as it (BFA) does not have a very strong and efficient team. “I tend to spend a lot of time educating and doing operational work that my team should be doing because if I don’t, what ends up with external stakeholders will be rather poor work output,” she wrote in the report.

The contents of the report lend credence to information earlier gathered by Mmegi Sport that some key figures were against the restructuring exercise. In the report, Taylor also recommended that the competitions manager James Phutego Setete be retained. It appears that Taylor did not get the backing of the NEC as Setete’s contract was not renewed when it ended late last year.

Taylor recommended that Phutego be retained and be given a short-term contract to ensure continuity as football had just started football at regional level and there is a lot of activity to reconcile player registrations, design new competition structures and update play policies among other things. “The core functions of the FA besides technical development are finance, governance and compliance as well as football operations. With the finance manager being released, it will affect operational efficiencies if the competitions manager is to be released in this period as well, more so because of the ongoing competitions and tournaments.

I do not believe it is ideal to depend on a NEC member to drive the needs of the competitions department and is like that the competitions manager’s institutional memory be tapped into to ensure successful placement of new hires,” the report said.

Taylor indicated there was no hand-over report when she took over last year. “When I joined BFA on 5th April 2021, I was not given a hand over report. However, following the induction I had received from Mamelodi Consulting as well as the training I had received from UEFA Assist, I was able to put together a work plan of areas of focus so that I could be able to hit the ground running and execute on my mandate. I have been able, throughout this time, to pick information as I went along as I had made sure that my team reports on a weekly basis.

This has in turn helped me understand priority areas and I am very confident that I fully understand the needs of the Association and areas that need prioritisation and I can confirm that I am working hard to see to these being fulfilled,” she said. Contacted for comment, Taylor refused to entertain any questions from Mmegi Sport regarding the report. Letshwiti on the other hand, lost his cool when asked about the contents of the report. “I do not deal with clerical issues. I am a high-level businessperson.

Go where you can get those answers,” Letshwiti said. Letshwiti later added through an SMS message, “Go to hell.” Acting BFA chief executive officer, Tshepo Mphukuthi said investigations regarding the general use of money at the BFA are ongoing. “At this point, it is too early to rush to conclusions. May I request we allow the investigations to finish and we give a full account of what happened. Less, we may find ourselves interfering with them (investigations),” Mphukuthi said.

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