This has a bearing of the old. Same players; similar tactics! The fallout is looming. And it is all about the safeguarding the turf. The more things are supposed to have changed with the conversion of the Botswana National Sports Council into a Commission the more they have remained the same. This is as far as the BNSC’s frosty relationship with the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) is concerned. BNOC is digging its heels; they will not play second fiddle to anyone. This is to be expected of any change. And no one, I suppose, expected it to be easy. This is where the minister of sport should come in. Having removed and annihilated what used to be Department of Sports and Recreation under his ministry in the creation of the Commission, he is now to undertake an unambiguous role clarity exercise – demarcating lines and spheres of influence between the BNSC and the BNOC. As it is now, egos are at play. With some accustomed to unfettered power and control, it will not be easy to yield. My understanding has been and remains that the Commission has become the undisputed authority of sport in Botswana. No agency or code is equal to it in power or authority over sport. All others should fall under it from codes to group associations. The BNOC though operating at national draws its mandate from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and has enjoyed the unofficial badge of running elite sport in the country. They are highly resourced and without their blessings one will not register, attend or compete at the Olympics. The same goes for Special Olympics. Until recently they did not have a secretariat. Things changed when they appointed Tuelo Serufho, the CEO and immediately increased their visibility and activism. They won the bid to host the last year’s Africa Youth Games and ultimately had to partner with the Sports Council to deliver them. Indications are showing that it will take a little bit more effort to ensure positive and harmonious working relations between BNOC and the Commission. Leaders of both organisations will have to go beyond the call of duty to secure a win-win partnership.
There is, however, a much bigger battle that includes the whole continent. The question is – who should run the All Africa Games. Since 1965, the Games have been run by Governments and answerable to African Sports Ministers through the African Union Sports Council (AUSC). The Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) wants to assume the running of the games because they are convinced they would do a better job of organising and running them. This, the ministers have taken as an insult. Perhaps it is! Consider Africa Games where no Africa Union flag is hosted; and where the AU national anthem is not sung. ANOCA, it is claimed, would not have these at the continental games were they to run them. It is also claimed that ANOCA proposes not to share proceeds from the Games with anyone. It is this that has angered the African ministers. They see ANOCA attempting to take Africa back to the slave age. They do not see anything about unification which the games intended to secure from ANOCA’s proposal. Botswana’s Minister of Sports Thapelo Olopeng is expected to address a press conference on this matter on Tuesday. We await his address.