BNOC, baseball at loggerheads

Catch: Eagles Sports Club is the one of the clubs registered with Botswana Baseball PIC: KENNEDY RAMOKONE
Catch: Eagles Sports Club is the one of the clubs registered with Botswana Baseball PIC: KENNEDY RAMOKONE

The Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) has said Baseball Botswana (BB) is a non-member and therefore illegible to vote at the forthcoming General Assembly. BNOC acting CEO, Baboni Kupe said baseball is not their affiliate despite BB's protestations.

But according to a letter from BNOC written to International Baseball Federation (IBF) in January 2015, by the then BNOC chief executive officer (CEO), Tuelo Serufho, Baseball Botswana was recognised as the sole national federation responsible for the development of baseball in Botswana. “Baseball Botswana has applied for membership of the BNOC, however, their application may only be considered at the General Assembly following their membership acceptance to the International Baseball Federation,” Serufho wrote then. In November 2017, baseball received a letter from World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) that gave them full membership. The letter stated that after the WBSC Congress that was held on October 13, 2017, in Gaborone, the WBSC approved Baseball Botswana as a new full member.

Baseball Botswana president, Latzbon Segaise told Mmegi Sport that he was unhappy about the treatment from BNOC. “When we submitted our application for BNOC affiliation, they advised us to get membership of the International Baseball Federation. The international body recognised us in 2017. We then submitted our new status to BNOC,” he said.

Segaise said BNOC requested additional information, which was surprising. He said after the back and forth with BNOC, he decided to elevate the matter to WBSC for guidance. “WBSC was even wondering why we were not participating in BNOC activities because we are an Olympics sport. When we inform them about what we are going through, BNOC feels like we are reporting them,” he said. Seagise revealed that Botswana Softball Association (BSA) also wanted to block their affiliation to BNOC. “People must know that baseball and softball are not one National Sport Association (NSA). So as it stands, we are losing out on many opportunities. Even our equipment is not available locally,” he said. Segaise added they could not receive any donations as long as the affiliation remains suspended.

The suspension means baseball cannot vote at the upcoming BNOC board elections, while Botswana Softball Association (BSA) and Botswana Karate Association (BOKA) have been granted an opportunity to vote. The two NSAs were initially barred from voting because they will not be part of the Paris 2024 Olympics. BSA secretary-general, Nozie Malunga Payet explained that they appealed the decision during the BNOC emergency general meeting, while BOKA president, Tshepho Bathai said the confusion had been cleared, paving the way for them to vote. Meanwhile, BNOC has put in place the Nominations and Elections Committee (NEC). The nominations were made last week during the Extra Ordinary General Meeting (EGM). There were four nominations submitted with the fifth one being nominated from the floor to make the required five.

While BNOC refused to divulge the names of the committee members, Mmegi Sport is reliably informed Charmaine Khupe heads the group as chairperson while Karabo Samuel and Elijah Kokoro also make up the committee. BNOC's Kupe said the leadership was still discussing the list and was therefore unable to provide the names. The concern ahead of the EGM was that the term of office for the previous NEC had lapsed in May and the Ordinary General Meeting held in May should have elected a new committee then.

The NEC is now in place and would restart the invitations for BNOC board nominations to be elected at the general meeting later this year. The initial date for the elections was October 16.

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