Missing Millions haunt football
Jagdish Shah, Sebego in the eye of the storm
Botswana Premier League (BPL) scandal of missing millions of pulas deepened this week with allegations of cronyism, patronage and hijacking of the beautiful game for personal gains emerging.
Recently the premier League was threatened with a crisis when officials discovered that money budgeted for paying teams monthly grants had gone missing.
BPL Board of Governors moved quickly to recall the chairman, Walter Kgabung and suspend Chief Executive Officer, (CEO) Bennett Mamelodi and his Personal Assistant for alleged failure to account for a whopping P6 million that went missing from the BPL coffers.
A week later, BFA President, Tebogo Sebego countered the board’s decision and ordered those concerned to submit composite reports, to determine the way forward.
At the time of going to print, the NEC had however outmaneuvered Sebego and reinstated the resolutions passed by the Premier League Board.
Strongly condemning what they viewed as Sebego’s meddling in BPL matters in an effort to curry favour with Township Rollers Caretaker and financier, Jagdish Shah, a source within BPL said, “We know Sebego is eyeing a second term as the BFA President and Shah is understood to be in his corner and is likely to fund his campaign. But had the NEC not reversed Sebego’s decisions and upheld the CEO’s suspension, the league would have been thrown into total disarray. We were ready to divide the league by bringing back a parallel league, the Botswana Soccer Association, (BOSA) which was formed out of protest in 2001,” said the source.
The CEO, inside sources have revealed will remain suspended until a forensic audit has been carried out.
“One of our major stakeholders has already agreed to sponsor the audit, to help us figure out where the money went,” explained the source.
Lambasting Mamelodi for alleged maladministration, the inside source said, “ There was a break-in at his house and at the BPL offices. He insisted to the police that nothing was stolen by then but we have come to learn that some important documents for clubs that are protesting against Rollers have gone missing. We need investigations into that.”
Meanwhile The Voice has been reliably informed that club chairmen are worried that Shah is using his financial muscle behind the scenes to pull the strings for Rollers whose knack for breaking set rules has destabilized the league resulting in many of the teams protesting against the Gaborone based club.
Gilport Lions and Mochudi Centre Chiefs both lost their protests against Rollers for the team’suse of Ofentse Nato.
Lions wanted to be awarded three points after losing 3-0 to the log leaders while Chiefs wanted the Mascom Top 8 semifinal results to be overturned.
The ruling on both protests did not go down well with most clubs who felt the Gaborone giants are being given preferential treatment to help them win the league.
“We suspect that some people including the suspended CEO were advancing the Rollers agenda,” another source said.
Reached for a comment Sebego however called out to the ‘faceless’ lobbyists to come out in to the open and say their concerns to his face.
“This is just petty talk from people perhaps who have their own agendas. Look here, how do I influence how the league is run? When the board called a meeting I was not even aware of it,” Sebego said
The BFA President went on to explain that people might continue to link him with Shah because he was called in to broker peace during the Rollers in-fightings.
“Look here I’m the BFA President. I’m happy that I played a role to help stabilize the situation at Rollers. I did the same at Extension Gunners and Sankoyo Bush Bucks, its part of my job,” he said.
In an interview, Shah the multimillionaire did not take kindly to allegations that he has become Botswana football’s kingmaker.
“That is ridiculous. What agenda are they talking about? Rollers does not have an agenda, they play in the spirit of football. Unlike other clubs or Chairmen, we have not lobbied or connived with anyone to bring others down,” he fumed
Shah who has been accused of match fixing after he loaned Sankoyo Bush Bucks, Green Lovers and Motlakase Power Dynamos money, argued that he did so out of good faith.
“I was only helping, and I help a lot of people with money, but if I’m told to stop I will stop,” he said.
Shah loaned Dynamos P100 000 and P50 000 to both Bush Bucks and Green Lovers.
“I have put a lot of money in football because our aim is to build a profitable business which will employ young people. Our players can now afford to pay mortgages because we are serious about football business,” he said.
The businessman who owns is also Botswana Democratic Party Deputy Treasurer said teams have connived against Rollers and are now attacking the BPL for no reason.
“Sebego is the BFA President and it is his job to unite clubs when there are misunderstandings. He has done brilliantly in that regard,” Shah said and went on to urge other clubs to benchmark at Rollers for the enhancement of sport
“We have raised the bar and teams can’t cope,” was Shah’s parting shot.