Money at the heart of athletics protracted row



As Serake hits back at FAL president


MASERU – Former President of the Federation of Athletics Lesotho (FAL), Serake Makhaola, has hit back at his former deputy, Tšeliso Pheta, following the latter’s accusations that the federation’s funds were misused during Serake’s tenure.

Pheta, who was elected FAL president in March after a protracted fight between his faction and one which apparently supported Serake, said Serake did not want to account for the federation’s funds.

The new FAL boss wanted his former colleagues to account for M25 000 broken down into two transactions (M19 000 and M6 000), which he says they withdrew between November and December last year. He claimed at the time there were no athletics activities since they were busy fighting for the leadership of the federation.

But Serake, who took over the athletics’ presidency in 2017 after previously serving as secretary general, has rubbished Pheta’s allegations as totally unfounded.

Serake said what annoyed him most was that he had worked very hard to revamp the federation since he took over the presidency, since before then all was not well in athletics. He said it now seemed Pheta wants to take them back to those days.

“When I took over as the President, Pheta was suspended following statements he made about one of the local sports mother bodies but I made sure that his suspension was revoked because I wanted us to turn over a new page and forget all that had happened before,” said Serake in an interview with Public Eye on Monday this week.

The former athletics boss said Pheta’s suspension had no time frame. He said again, in his endeavour to restore the federation, he reinstated the Mafeteng District Athletics Association which had also been suspended before he became the president.

Serake further said: “I am just disappointed because Pheta was still in the office ever since I revoked his suspension until on October 31 last year (2020) when they (he and his faction) chose to go to an unauthorised elective conference following squabbles which were there in athletics at the time.”

The former President said after that incident, he remained in the office together with ex-treasurer, Kokolia Mokonyana and ex-Public Relations Officer, Sejanamane Maphathe.

Serake said even though sports activities were suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were some of things which his office continued doing, which were necessary for its operation. “There were some of things which we continued doing, like meeting with the athletics districts administrators and some of the associations,” he said.

Serake said they also held a coaches’ seminars during that time when Pheta and his camp were still fighting for the leadership of the federation, after the authorised October elective conference where Pheta was first elected President. “Therefore Pheta is right when he said he does not know what the money he is talking about was used for because he was no longer coming to the office.

“He was busy out there with some people who together with him said were elected to lead athletics.” Serake further said: “There was also a court case lodged by Pheta and his people against myself and two of our members (Mokonyana and Maphathe).”

The former president said Pheta was aware of how their athletics meetings were held indicating, among other things, that “all those things cost money.”  Ex-LAF treasurer, Mokonyana, last week said he was ready to present a financial report – but said he could only do so in an annual general meeting.

The LAF is going to hold its annual general meeting next month, on October 31. Mokonyana also accused Pheta of failing to account for M33 000 in two transactions of (M3 000 and M30 000).

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