Steeped in sports

The former Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) President Moses Motshegetsi Bantsi was recently elected Congress of the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) vice president.

The Tonota born administrator also serves as the CAA Southern Region President and has been active in different sports codes boardrooms for almost four decades.

During his days at Swaneng Senior School, he was one of the best runners in 100 and 200m.

He entered the world of administrator in 1986 as vice president of the then Botswana Premier League Association (now BOTESSA) and also served on Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC) board.

Bantsi was also a Boxing Coach when he lectured at BCET, producing a champion in Oganeditse Medupe.

He was also manager of Serowe-based football team Miscellaneous, securing their promotion from the second to first division.

In 1999 he became the president of BAA (when it was called Botswana Amateur Athletics Association).

In 2011 he was elected President for CAA Southern Region, a position he currently holds.

He is a multiple recipient of the Botswana National Commission Administrator of the Year award, winning it three times in a row.

Apart from sports, Bantsi is also a political activist and he once stood for parliament position under Botswana National Front (BNF).

The Voice’s Portia Mlilo caught up with the experienced sports administrator, predominantly to talk about sport with a sprinkling of politics.

Q. How will Botswana benefit from your roles in CAA?

A. We have amended the constitution after we realised that in the past the dominance was North Africa.

We changed it to accommodate all the regions.

Our region is represented by five people, so that make it easier in terms of decisions that will favour us in athletics development.

Q. Your time in office runs until 2023. Will you stand again?

A. I think at the region I have played my part; this is my third term as the President of the region.

I am going to evaluate the next coming four years and if my contribution is needed I will go for it.

If I feel that the next person should take over so let it be.

I would have served sport for almost 5 decades!

Q. What would you say are some of your achievements as the President of the region and Vice for the continent?

A. The first thing is unifying our region.

When I was elected, the islands seemed to be sidelined.

Now they feel home and part of us.

They are French speaking countries and they were moving to other regions.

Another achievement is that our region is now recognised and our athletes are doing very well in competitions.

When we were amending the constitution, I was one of the six people who represented Africa and that means a lot to us.

Q. Just recently, Botswana’s 4x400m relay team failed to travel to Yokohama, Japan for the World Relays. How does that affect our image?

A. It is a big issue.

All countries that participated were preparing for Botswana team.

They knew they were going to have competition and Africa pinned their hopes on us and the southern region.

That was the qualifier for the World Championships and the 2020 Olympics.

BAA is saying they did not have funds but I think it was just an administration lapse.

We know about competitions a year before so you have adequate time to prepare and look for money.

The other thing is if your relay team have qualified, IAAF pay for four of your athletes so for me is not a money problem.

Apart from that, we have professional athletes like Nijel Amos, Isaac Makwala and Baboloki Thebe who have agents and they can sponsor them.

We are also sponsored by Nike and it was prepared to send our athletes.

Q. What are you doing as the President of the region to avoid such incidents going forward?

A. We want to capacitate our federations’ administration where they are lacking.

They can send the Secretary General and other Executive members to our regional development centre in Nairobi where we also train coaches and officials.

Botswana has not participated in one of the series of IAAF, they have already missed Africa under 18 and 20 in Abidjan.

Last year Botswana did not send youth to the World Championships.

At the end of the year we are going to be ranked lower.

The system has changed, even the ranking – you have to accumulate points as an athlete so they have to run many competitive races.

Our country is categorised under B in terms of doping and we are in the spotlight.

The ministry should speed-up so that we have the secretariat with fully-fledged sports medicine.

Q. You were once BAA President and resigned. Kindly take our readers back and explain what transpired?

A. In 2016 some clubs raised a motion against the Secretary General, Legojane Kebaitse and my view was it includes the whole Executive Committee.

The meeting went ahead, the motion was defeated but the same people who proposed it started making a lot of noise, disrupting the meeting.

With that, SG decided to step down.

I also decided to resign as did my Vice President, Ronald Masalila.

Kebaitse was the best and the current committee is still engaging him when they are stuck.

Q. Do you have any intentions of contesting for BAA Presidency as they go for the elections soon?

A. At the moment I can say no but if I am called to rescue the situation I will do it.

BAA is in Intensive Care Unit and we need some help.

I am more than ready!

Q. Do you think Botswana is doing enough in terms of athletics development?

A. Most of our athletes just have natural talent, they are raw.

They would be much further than they currently are if we gave them much-needed support.

I think we have failed to package athletics.

We have top ranked athletes, won medals but no one is sponsoring athletics.

We need BAA secretariat equipped to package athletics and make it a sellable product.

Government grants are not enough, we need corporate support.

The organisers of Diacore Marathon are sponsoring long distance runners and it is really helping our athletes.

I wish more companies could come on board.

Q. Away from athletics, are you still active in politics?

A. Yes, for life! I am still a member of Botswana National Front of Umbrella for Democratic Change although I am not standing for the elections.

I wanted to stand for Gaborone Bonington South in 2014 but during the formation of UDC the constituency was given to Ndaba Gaolatlhe and I supported him.

This year National Executive Committee wanted to bring in unions and decided to give a member of BOFEPUSO the constituency, which is why I will not be standing.

Q. Do you think UDC stand a good chance of toppling the government?

A. UDC is fine, the problem is the expulsion of Botswana Movement for Democracy and formation of Alliance for Progressive though it was complemented by Botswana Congress Party.

To win you need numbers but I strongly believe voters understand our mandate and we will win the elections.

It is upon the foot soldiers and leadership to work hard and sell our manifesto.

Politics today is not about insulting your rivals.

You tell people what you have for them that is different from what they are currently getting.

We need to go there and convince people and we have fielded credible candidates in constituencies.

Botswana Democratic Party has been ruling for a long time and have run out of ideas, they need to go!

Q. Do you think the current division within the BDP will work to UDC’s advantage?

A. Yes it can. What people are not aware of is that there has always been a BDP and opposition parties – now it’s them, those who are not happy with Bulela Ditswe, which affected the BDP, which is the third element.

Another element for BDP is the ‘Khama factor’ and those traditional BDP members who do not like what the current leadership is doing by recruiting opposition members and giving them high positions.

Now BDP is faced with four forces.

We should remember it is ruling with 46% of the popular vote, which has eroded as we speak.

Some influential members of the BDP agree with UDC manifesto that is why they feel they should re-write theirs.

Really BDP does not stand a chance and if there is anyone thinking of voting for them he/she needs to be examined.

Q. Thank God it’s Friday, what are you up to this weekend?

A. I have no plans. I think I will be just home with my family.

I am a grandfather and I like spending more time with my grandchildren.

I love sports in general and if there will be games in Gaborone, I will attend.

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