Sports

FAL in-fighting turns nasty

Chris Theko

The newly elected Federation of Athletics Lesotho (FAL) has taken some of the outgoing members of the committee to court in a bid to force them to release the federation’s funds. 

An urgent High Court Application was filed by the new committee which seeks to be recognised as the legitimate committee following the 31 October 2020 polls through which it was installed to govern the association affairs for the next five years. 

However, the outgoing committee maintains that the elections were declared to have been held against the directive of the Lesotho Sports and Recreation Commission (LSRC) and that of the arbitration tribunal who said activities that led to the elections were unconstitutional. 

Outgoing President Makhaola Serake, outgoing Public Relations Officer, Sejanamane Maphathe and another Member from the previous committee, Kokolia Mokonyana have remained defiant and continue to occupy office as they consider themselves bona fide committee members. 

The three are all cited as the first to third respondents respectively in the court application. They are also the signatories to the FAL’s Standard Lesotho Bank account hence custodians of the association’s funds.

Meanwhile in his founding affidavit, newly elected President, Tšeliso Pheta, states that they are the legitimate executive committee having been elected on 31 October 2020. 

“On the 19 September 2020 the National Executive Committee of the applicant held a special meeting in preparation of the electoral Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 31 October 2020. 

“All the 10-member District Athletics Associations were represented. Out of 20 delegates, 14 voted 31 October 2020 and six voted for 27 March 2021.  On 21 September 2020 a notice calling the electoral meeting was issued for 31 October 2020,” Pheta says in his court papers. 

“The three members of the applicant, namely, Berea, Maseru and Mafeteng tabled their grievances before the applicant’s tribunal challenging the constitutionality of the electoral meeting.  The hearing was held on 27 October where the tribunal recommended that the decision be declared null and void.  The tribunal had no jurisdiction to entertain the mater, thus its recommendations are invalid. 

“On 30 October the delegates from the member districts began to arrive for the meeting.  I am informed by the Secretary General Makara Thibinyane, and I believe him to be true, that he found out that Mr. Mokanyane had cancelled the bookings at the Scripture Union for accommodation. The delegates had not been given their food and travelling allowances. Mr. Thibinyane and I had to accommodate them, provide them with food and I paid for the hall rental out of my own pocket.  Other members also contributed,” he adds.

He further indicates in the affidavit that Serake sent a message to Thibinyane talking about cancelling the elective conference on 31 October 2020 at 5am but the meeting continued nonetheless.

“Seven member districts were represented, exceeding the required quorum of 60 percent.  Berea, Mokhotlong, and Mafeteng were absent.  A new national executive committee was elected.  Those were TšelisoPheta (President), Sefali Sefali (Deputy President), Makara Thibinyane (Secretary-General) ‘MafikileThabakholo (Vice-Seretary) Letsema Moiloa (Treasurer), Nkuebe Makhalemele (Public Relations Officer) and Committee Member Karabo Ntabanyane.

“The affiliate bodies including World Athletics were informed of the situation and they recommended that the meeting be called to try and resolve the issue and avoid divisions in the association. On 10 November 2020 a meeting called for 12 November 2020 and Mr. Thibinyane called first respondent to request for funds.  The latter refused to release any funds without giving reasons, saying he had agreed with the second respondent not to release the funds. The meeting has had to be postponed to 18 November to allow for resolving of the impasse by court,” he says.

Meanwhile, in an exclusive interview with Newsday Sport, Pheta said all they are seeking is to be recognized as the rightful executive and for funds to be released. 

“For our final reliefs, we want an order directing the respondents to pay all the applicant’s meetings, this includes travelling allowances and any other expenses authorized by the new national executive committee,” Pheta said.

Meanwhile, the respondents were expected have filed answering papers by 23 November 2020, however, the outgoing president Makhaola Serake said their lawyer was still working on filing on Wednesday 24 November and will only submit later. 

“We are aware of the urgent court case filed by some of our members against us and our lawyer is already working on filling the response papers. The process was deemed not to be urgent by the courts so we are not in a hurry,” Serake said. 

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