Campaigns for Botswana National Olympics Committee (BONC) leadership positions has reached climax as days for the elective congress draw nearer. The elections which will be held on 7 October 2017 will see for the first time in history, five candidates vying for the presidency. On Thursday evening the five came head-to-head in a debate Tlotlo Conference Centre. The five are the current BNOC Vice president Botsang Tshenyego, BONA president Tebogo LebotseSebego, BVF President David Molaodi, Former BFA CEO Ookeditse Malesu and former BoBA president France Mabiletsa. All the five believe they have what it takes not only to run BNOC but also to bring a positive change. It will be up to the affiliates to decide who they settle for to replace Negros Kgosietsile who is stepping down. The debate moderator Macdonald Rakgare gave the candidates time to unpack to Batswana what they would bring to BNOC if elected.
The former BoBA president, who also served in BNOC structures, took a swipe at the committee saying there should be a change for Botswana to do well at international competitions. He said if elected to the presidency he will make sure that there is a proper support and preparation for the teams that have to represent the country at the Olympics and Commonwealth Games. “For us to start getting more medals, teams must be put up at the start of every Olympic cycle. These teams should be fully supported for the full four years and not only wait for last minute preparations,” said Mabiletsa. He called for bringing in of sport scientists to continue monitoring the performances of athletes throughout the four years. Mabiletsa is of a view that the commission should be more hands on in the nurturing of the athletes as provided in their mission and vision statement. “BNOC should take advantage of other local and regional games to support and monitor the athletes in order to make them ready to bring medals,” he said. He is of a few that the medal athlete ratio of 80:1 shows a lot still needs to be done for Botswana to start getting more medals from the Olympics. If elected, he will lobby for the country to have a High Performance Centre where quality elite athletes would be produced.
The confident Malesu said if he elected he will work on giving athletes and sporting codes the respect and recognition they deserve. He said in the past BNOC has always taken limelight especially after success from major games while people who work on developing the athletes are side lined. He said he would push for the country to have an athlete village where all the athletes will be coordinated from. “This will save the country a lot of money that is used on lodging. This athlete village will also have all different sport science specialists to work with the athletes,” he said. The other thing he said will be to work on harmonising some of the activities done by BNSC and BNOC to maximise productivity and athlete development. Furthermore, Malesu said he will push for accountability for both athletes and officials to ensure proper use of tax payers’ money.
When he started Tshenyego said BNOC has been successful over the years having been able to establish a fully fledge secretariat. He said currently the BNOC is one of the most attractive entities, hence the number of candidates vying for presidency. He said research has shown that success comes from continuous improvement. Therefore, he said, he offers to be elected to provide continuity as he has been serving on the board for some years. One of his major priorities he said will be to address the BNOC mandate issue which has been having lot of interpretations. The other thing which will be on his agenda will be to work out the disparity between the codes. “The issue of small codes/big codes have caused a lot of discomfort and it will be something I will address. I think all codes must have equal opportunities of support because we will ever know where the medals will come from,” said Tshenyego. Constitutional review is also on the soft-spoken Tshenyego’s agenda. According to him, the current constitution has limitations and loop-holes that need to be addressed. One of these he said is the voting of the board during the elections. Tshenyego said the current board has already started the process but was halted because of the coming elections. “If elected I will take up this matter and bring it to rest as it has already been started,” he said.
For her part LebotseSebego said if elected, she will emphasise on brand positioning of all the sporting codes so that they would start attracting investors. By so doing she explained they will be able to attract sponsorship which will help them develop players as government cannot be able to do it alone. It is for this reason that she will engage government on some of the political decisions concerning sport. “A fair and frank conversation with government needs to be held on where political influence ends,” she said. LebotseSebego said constituency tournament issue that continues to threaten some codes such as netball and volleyball needs to be addressed further. Infrastructure development is an issue close to her heart, saying government also has to be talked to about the construction of outdoor stadia across the country. “I am willing to take government head on to convince them about building more indoor sports facilities to cater for codes like volleyball, netball, basketball and netball,” she said. LebotseSebego feels these facilities are imperative to the development of sport in the country. To further improve Botswana’s prospects of doing well at the Olympics and Commonwealth games LebotseSebego said it is imperative for BNOC to identify players and focus on them for the four-year period and not wait for last minute. She is also of a view that all sporting codes should be supported regardless of being Olympic codes or not.
The issue of constitutional review also popped up from Molaodi who feels there is need for change. He said when elected this will be his short and long-term goal. He explained that he will be looking at the roles of the executive board and the secretariat. Molaodi feels there is need for separation of duties. “With a fully functional secretariat there is no need for executive board. We should remove executive and remain with the board which should be non-administrative,” he said. According to him, the role of the board should be as an overseer and guide the secretariat and it will be what he will be pushing for.