Botswana reiterates support for Ahmad
By Bakang Mhaladi
GABORONE – Botswana Football Association (BFA) president, Maclean Letshwiti, has said his country would support Malagasy candidate, Ahmad in the CAF presidential election to be held on March 16 in Ethiopia.
Ahmad will attempt to uproot long-serving president, Issa Hayatou -who is seeking a record eighth term, having been at the helm since 1988.
Letshwiti failed to travel to Harare for COSAFA president, Philip Chiyangwa’s birthday celebrations which were attended by FIFA boss, Gianni Infantino, with the Motswana citing other pressing business commitments.
This fueled speculation that Botswana might not vote for COSAFA’s preferred candidate, Ahmad in this month’s election.
But Letshwiti has told reporters in Gaborone that they are still very much behind Ahmad as part of COSAFA’s resolution.
“I am the driving force, the strategist. I keep the group together. We support Ahmad and COSAFA has stated its position,” Letshwiti said.
Ahmad is largely unknown but his campaign is managed by colourful Zimbabwean businessman, Philip Chiyangwa, who appears to have Infantino’s ear.
Hayatou faces a stern challenge after regional blocs, Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) and the Council for East and Central Africa Football Associations (CECAFA) threw their weight behind the former Madagascar minister.
Other powerful nations like Nigeria have backed Ahmad, much to Hayatou’s chagrin. Djibouti this week became the latest nation to endorse Ahmad.
Meanwhile, the BFA has appointed Ookeditse Malesu as its chief executive officer, which has drawn criticism from some quarters.
Malesu, a former karate and swimming president, was a foot soldier during a campaign that delivered the BFA top post to Letshwiti last August.
However, there are question marks over his suitability for the role, as he has not been tested at the top level. BFA has registered a high turnover of CEOs over the years, and Malesu is not tipped to last in the hot seat.
The appointment has opened fissures within the BFA executive committee, with Letshwiti’s two vice presidents, Marshlow Motlogelwa and Segolame Ramotlhwa opposed to Malesu’s selection.
The BFA did not advertise the post but chose to hand pick among Letshwiti’s loyalists.
The move will, however, likely open a Pandora’s Box with first cracks emerging in ‘Paradise’ since the Letshwiti leadership swept into power six months ago.