Gaborone United director, Nicholas Zakhem has become the new thorn in the Botswana Football Association’s (BFA) flesh. Zakhem shocked the local football fraternity with stinging criticism of his former ally Maclean Letshwiti, marking a spectacular fall-out.
As the big fall-out continues, both parties appear prepared for a bare-knuckled fight, with no immediate talk of smoking the peace pipe. But Zakhem said he was not out to push for a motion of no confidence against his (former) friend. “I am not into such (passing a motion of no confidence). It is up to the delegates to decide what they wish to do. I have laid for them a solid foundation, now it is their role to play. All I want to see is football progressing both at BFL level and grassroots,” he said.
The BFA is due to hold its general assembly in October, where there could be fireworks as the two have their daggers drawn. Zakhem could face censure for his utterances but he has previously indicated he is unbothered. Letshwiti said Zakhem’s criticism was unfortunate.
“These comments hurt the football industry, they are reckless and are fabricated,” he said.
“These are personal comments from Zakhem and have nothing to do with the BFA or the BFL,” he added. Letshwiti is taken aback by Zakhem’s public criticism, arguing there were platforms where issues could be discussed.
“Someone like Jagdish Shah always criticises. He has a different approach. He doesn’t criticise me in public but he tells me what I am doing is wrong or right. He is civil. Both of them are my friends, but they have different approaches to issues,” Letshwiti said. Reports are that there could be moves to remove Letshwiti at the next BFA general assembly due in October. Letshwiti said he understands Zakhem has an agenda to remove him from office. “That doesn’t bother me. I have an agenda to pursue in football, which includes governance, raising the standard of football in Botswana, including commercialisation. If they want to remove me, they can get rid of me, but I am an agent of change and I will stick by my principles. Change is a difficult and painful process.” He said it was unfortunate Zakhem “has chosen to wash dirty linen in public”.
“If Zakhem has transgressed, action has to be taken, but it’s up to the judicial bodies,” he said.
Zakhem has indicated he tried to engage Letshwiti previously about turning around the fortunes of the game but to no avail. He has not backed down on his criticism of football authorities, in fact turning the screws in recent widespread interviews.
At the centre of the ‘anger’ has been the absence of the league, the chopping of five teams due to club licensing requirements, among others. The clubs were given the green light to participate in the league, but that has not cooled the criticism.