Botswana Football Association (BFA) leadership announced the appointment of Ookeditse Malesu this week as the new Chief Executive Officer; a move seen by close observers as part of the ongoing efforts by the administration to reward loyalists instead of looking at competence. The position was not advertised. Malesu was a staunch campaigner for BFA president Maclean Letshwiti and his camp in the run up to the elections last year and lost his own bid to be an additional member of the National Executive Committee (NEC). Once they clinched the office Letshwiti’s administration had swiftly moved to clear out people they felt belonged to opposition camp and install loyalists. Though the president and his deputy presidents – Segolame Ramotlhwa and Marslow Motlogelwa – have been in agreement over a number of actions since assuming office the appointment of Malesu as CEO has allegedly divided them sharply. Sources talk of a big fall-out in the BFA’s top leadership with the aggrieved parties allegedly seeking the intervention of the Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) over the CEO matter and others. Malesu is a former Botswana Karate Association (BOKA) president and has served for years as a member of the Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC) before it was transformed into a Commission. Though his soccer credentials are lacking, the executive could have an easy justification that they were not necessarily looking for a former soccer player but an administrator who can have the work done. That he has been constantly involved in sport, including swimming, also goes further to demonstrate his high passion for the game. When campaigning for the additional member slot in the BFA executive committee, Malesu had declared that he was bringing to the game – “pragmatic leadership implementation abilities, integrity, morality consciousness and above board football administration”. However those who have worked with him closely have often complained about his tendency of attracting and causing controversy.
In announcing Malesu’s appointment hailed him as an all-round sports man. “He is an all-round sportsman with distinctions in leadership in two sports codes; swimming and karate that have catapulted him into qualifying to serve in various national, regional and international committees and sub committees in areas of hospitality and resource mobilization, competitions organizing committees, awards adjudication and review committee… His exposure to leadership, experience with a disciplined outfit which specialises in strategy management, tactics and team building will be a great asset to an organisation which has at times been accused of moral and financial indiscipline. We trust and hope that football fraternity will finally find a leadership that is a supporter and sponsor centred for the overall development of the game at all levels of the game nationally, regionally and internationally,” said Letshwiti. His appointment comes at a time when the previous incumbent Kitso Kemoeng has registered a case of unfair dismissal with the Gaborone Labour Office. The matter is due to be heard on March 29, 2017 and with the matter having a bearing on the filling of the CEO position those close to Kemoeng said he was prepared to interdict the appointment process had the position been advertised. Contacted for comment BFA spokesperson Tumo Mpatane confirmed that the position of the CEO was not advertised. Mpatane said it was a direct appointment by BFA’s National Executive Committee. Regarding complaints that it looks like Letshwiti is appointing his loyalists without considering competency and qualification, Mpatane did not want to be drawn into discussing this. He, however, said the president has always made it clear that his administration will appoint only competent people who will be able to deliver on the mandate of the association.
Kemoeng has meanwhile complained that he was dismissed on drummed up charges and was heard by what amounted to a kangaroo court where his pleas of some panelists to recuse themselves were disregarded. He faced five counts of Gross Misconduct: Unauthorised expenditure; Withholding Legal advice from the NEC; Unauthorised recruitment of staff; Failure to follow established protocol and Participating in engagement of Consultant without authority. He was only found not guilty in one count of withholding legal advice. It had taken only two months after the new NEC came into office on August 13, 2016 to have suspended (October 17, 2016) and finally dismiss him on December 12, 2016. Those who worked closely with Kemoeng concede that he was often reduced to a mere clerk who faced unclear communication lines with Vice Presidents calling the shots when he should otherwise have been reporting to the President as per his contract. Alongside Kemoeng others who have felt the brunt of the new executive are the chairperson of the Kweneng District Football Association who was charged with misconduct for protesting the ongoing purging at the BFA. The Debswana National First Division (NFD) league (north) and his secretary general have also been accused of conniving with the former CEO (Kemoeng) to undermine the current BFA leadership. Some of the standing committees have been appointed on factional lines with the current administration putting in those loyal to them.