Fresh hope as football forms ‘gov’t of national unity’

Getting together: Zakhem and Letshwiti PIC: BFA
Getting together: Zakhem and Letshwiti PIC: BFA

There are no permanent enemies and no permanent friends, but permanent interests, so goes the cliché. The issue of permanent interests, however, remains subjective.

Local football has witnessed a whirlwind last few weeks in which there was a spectacular fall-out and quick patch. After years of cosy friendship, Gaborone United director and businessman, Nicholas Zakhem and the Botswana Football Association (BFA) president, Maclean Letshwiti’s friendship hit the iceberg. The fall-out was swift and deteriorated at an alarming rate.

The very same man who was instrumental in Letshwiti’s campaign was now the one holding the dagger. The two were reportedly not on talking terms during a period in which Zakhem went public with his criticism of Letshwiti’s leadership. It appeared Zakhem was gaining ground, while Letshwiti was prepared to fend off of the rebellion. As battle lines were drawn and local football getting the front row seat to watch the unfolding drama, the simmer started to die down. Zakhem is now the Botswana Football League (BFL) chairperson, an influential position after Aryl Ralebala quit his position under a cloud. Zakhem had contended that the BFL board had been ushered under unconstitutional terms. By virtue of his position, the BFL board chairperson has to maintain close contact with the BFA president.

It was a situation worth keeping a close eye on after Zakhem ascended to the post. But there was an immediate fizzle, much to the disappointment of those who were craving some action. The upcoming Botswana Football Association (BFA) Ordinary General Assembly was primed as the venue for a no-holds-barred contest.

It could either make or break the two protagonists. It now appears highly unlikely as an anti-climax looms. Was the dominant picture of Zakhem and Letshwiti leaning towards each other during the Orapa United and Coton Sport CAF Confederations Cup match at the National Stadium, worth a thousand words? It appears so. “We are both striving for a better football although we might differ in the implementation methods. We have an undertaking from the leadership that BFL autonomy will always be respected.

I wish to add that the president and all NEC members have been supportive of us to enable the start of the season on October 30. It is now up to us as shareholders to team up and move the game to a higher level on and off the pitch,” Zakhem said in an interview yesterday.

It could be the calm after a brief violent storm and football headed in a new direction after surprise BFL appointments this week. Letshwiti battled against Tebogo Sebego in 2016 and 2020 for the BFA presidency. Sebego has been appointed as BFL independent director, while Bennett Mamelodi makes a comeback as BFL transition project manager.

Mamelodi was forced out of the Botswana Premier League (BPL) office when the Letshwiti administration took over, amid allegations of maladministration. Mamelodi denied any wrongdoing and challenged his dismissal in court.

Editor's Comment
Everyone should be on high alert

Close to half a million people in the country have been fully vaccinated while over 800,000 have received their first doses. Botswana has tackled tough hurdles, but the race is far from over.Batswana are gearing up for the holidays and there will be a lot of movement across the country and outside the country. Social gatherings are back in full force and now more than ever, people should observe COVID-19 protocols.Our neighbouring country South...

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