Chess trio return to top

NTHAKO MAJORO

MASERU – Top chess officials, Tšeliso Motloheloa, Lesaoana Mohale and Mokone Moshe who were suspended last year received a new breath of life a fortnight ago when they were reinstated. All three executives have retained their former positions, Motloheloa is still the association’s president, Mohale is the vice president while Moshe is the association’s secretary general like before.

The trio was suspended in March last year over a court case against Motloheloa who was accused of allegedly misusing funds from the World Chess Federation (FIDE). Both Mohale and Moshe were, however not implicated in the case but they were accused of leaking inside information to the media and the police prematurely.

At the time Mohale and Moshe snitched to both the media and police, the matter was yet to be dealt with internally by the local chess federation and the Lesotho Sport and Recreation Commission (LSRC) as the local sports mother-body. A recommendation followed thereafter to suspend the trio and it was sanctioned by LSRC.

Motloheloa appeared in court in December 2016 and he was released on M2, 000 bail. On Tuesday this week, the development officer for Chess Federation of Lesotho (CFL), Tlhoriso Morienyane, confirmed that the trio had been reinstated to their old positions, after almost 18 months of watching from a distance as all activities including official meetings, chess games and tournaments unfolded across the country.

“Yes, it is true all three officials have been reinstated to their old positions,” Morienyane said on Tuesday. Morienyane, who was the acting president during Motloheloa’s suspension said the trio was reinstated on September 9. He said the decision to restore them was reached after Motloheloa’s case was withdrawn.

“We have agreed to work together with them for the benefit of chess in Lesotho, and this is since the case against Mr Motloheloa was withdrawn,” Morienyane said. “We simply want unity and we knew that we can get the desired unity by bringing people together.” Morienyane further indicated that the presence of all top three officials was instrumental to the development of chess in Lesotho.

“All three of them are equally important,” he said. According to a letter from the African Chess Federation (ACF), Motloheloa abused funds intended for the local chess federation by misappropriating US$15 000 (about M200 000 at the time). The letter was then copied to the president of ACF, Lewis Ncube and the then Lesotho minister of sports, Mathibeli Mokhothu.

Ncube in turn advised Mokhothu that Motloheloa could no longer continue holding the office of the president of the local chess federation, as per the international chess regulations. The LSRC chief executive officer, Mofihli Makoele, who was at the time the commission’s development officer was quoted as saying then that the incident had not only tainted the reputation of the sport in Lesotho but had also affected other sporting codes in terms of getting hard to find sponsorships.

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