Tension as chess goes to polls

Checkmate: Chess is preparing for elections PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO
Checkmate: Chess is preparing for elections PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO

Tension is mounting as the Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) goes for elections tomorrow, with the interim president Mothokomedi Thabano accused of interfering with the process.

The elections committee has also come under criticism, accused of bias. Presidential candidate, Kutlwano Tatolo wrote a letter to Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) in August requesting that the committee be dissolved. Another candidate, Moses Khutsafalo who is contesting for the position of vice president (technical) also raised a complaint. In her letter, Tatolo said she had lost confidence in the elections committee’s ability to conduct free and fair elections. Tatolo said the committee should not conduct the elections after it admitted its inability to facilitate online voting. “...the committee be dissolved from conducting elections on account of their suspicious, unprocedural and untrue reasons for the second suspension of elections,” her letter reads. Tatolo told Mmegi Sport that the elections can go ahead, as all that she wanted to highlight was that the elections committee is biased against her and Khutsafalo because of the complaints that they raised. “I am still not comfortable about them running elections and they would not be fair. Since I am not the only candidate, I have conceded to go on with the elections. Hopefully, they will be fair,” Tatolo said. Another presidential candidate, Mooketsi Segaise said he was not aware of complaints against the elections committee. “As for me, as things stand, I am good to go, more so that the election date has been declared. Whatever reservations I may have, this would not be the right time to voice them,” he said.

For the first time in chess elections, as associate members, primary schools will be allowed to vote. Segaise said as far as the BCF Constitution is concerned, schools at all levels are considered associates of the BCF and are eligible to vote. He said even at the last elections, primary schools were eligible to vote. “I am not sure if anyone at that particular time raised any queries against them voting. But if such a query was there, then it would have been misplaced. Yes, it is good to have primary schools have a say in the running of the BCF. We would like to see them enrolling and participating in chess activities,” Segaise said. Mabedi Mbo, who is also contesting for the presidency, said she was not aware of any complaints against the elections committee. The elections committee chairperson, Vincent Masole said he was aware of the complaints against his committee as they were copied in emails written to the BNSC. “I do believe that the BNSC has responded accordingly to the complainant. Without address from the general membership and BCF to us regarding any complaints, it means our journey to lead BCF elections continues,” he said.

Masole said he has confidence that they would lead the federation to a successful first ever virtual election tomorrow. He said they have previously conducted a voter education process that involved a trial election and it went well. He said virtual elections are new in the country and complaints are to be expected. “Everyone wants things to go their way. Others are complaining because they do not want a virtual election, others prefer it over a traditional election because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

There were allegations that Masole has been in meetings with one of the presidential candidates' team. Masole explained that since his appointment, he has met many candidates for various reasons concerning elections. “I do not know who is making those allegations. Maybe I have had meetings with him or her. I am not aware if there is any clause that prohibits me from meeting candidates. If there is then the general membership should decide on that,” Masole said. He said primary schools are allowed to vote because they are paid up by members of the federation. Masole said the stage is set for the elections. “As all of this would be done online, we are currently working on the voters' roll and getting the voters ready to start the registration process on the online voting website,” he said. Thabano also denied claims of interference.

“I have always kept my distance from the elections committee. However, there was no way I could not be invited for meetings,” he said. He added the other burning issue was of proxies. Thabano said some members paid subscription fees for schools. Thabano said in the past they had a limited number of primary schools but now that number has increased, hence they should be allowed to have a say in the running of the affairs of chess. Responding to the concerns, BNSC said it had noted the complaints but said there was sufficient capacity to conduct a virtual vote. Candidates: Chazha Bontsi, Goitsemodimo Makgatle and Jeremiah Dikgang (vice president-administration).

Thabo Gumpo, Khutsafalo and Ranku Kesiilwe (vice president-technical). Mokwaledi Tingwane (secretary general-unopposed). Kgalalelo Botlhole and Masego Motlotle (treasurer). David Serokana and Dave Motshabi (public relations officer). Lesego Selemogwe, Thompson Modisane and Senate Lekomola (technical and ratings). Morogorosi Otlaadisa, Bling Mbaiwa, Onty Sabure, Pudungwane Lesole and Puso Mabetu (development director).

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