Athletics bosses ordered to fresh polls
Or risk losing international membership with World Athletics
MASERU – The Lesotho Athletics Federation (LAF) has been ordered to facilitate fresh executive committee elections or lose membership in international body, World Athletics (WA).
The split LAF leadership, which has since October 2020 been plagued by wrangling following a controversial electoral process perpetuated against resolutions by the body’s Arbitration Tribunal barring its elective conference, was given this ultimatum in a virtual meeting held this Tuesday.
The meeting has been at the behest of Secretary General of the Confederation of African Athletics Southern Region 5 (CAASR), Aleck Skhosana, mandated by WA’s Senior Manager International Relations, Jee Islam, to deal with the LAF leadership dispute. CAASR president, Moses Bantsi, was also expected to be part of the meeting but failed to participate due to technical problem on his side.
According to both the LAF Secretary General, Makara Thibinyane and public relations officer Sejanamane Maphathe, the WA has ordered the federation to hold fresh elections before end of March and without fail as that is a condition to keep its membership valid with the world mother-body.
Both LAF factions were represented at the meeting, Thibinyane and vice-president Tšeliso Pheta being leading one faction, while the other group was represented by president, Makhaola Serake. Thibinyane told Public Eye after the meeting on Tuesday that a total seven members of the LAF executive members were part of the meeting.
“The World Athletics made the decision and mandated Aleck Skhosana to solve the dispute,” he said. “And secondly, the decision by the World Athletics was that the committee which was elected on October 31, 2020, was invalid.” Thibinyane further said: “We were also told to work together as members of the outgoing executive committee in preparation of the elections to be held before March 31.”LAF leadership, Thibinyane said, is expected to decide on a date of the elections before tomorrow.
“The president (Serake), vice-president (Pheta), secretary general (Thibinyane) and treasurer (Kokolia Mokonyana) have been tasked to decide on a date of the elections before Friday, February 5. And that we should also decide on an electoral body to manage the process leading to when nomination forms will be issued and when they are expected back,” Thibinyane continued.
The WA has further declared the suspensions of Thibinyane and Pheta null and void. The two were suspended by Serake in his capacity as LAF boss for, among others, taking the dispute to the courts of law, with Thibinyane’s disciplinary hearing supposed to take place this Friday and while Pheta’s was scheduled for next Tuesday.
“This is because our term of office had expired on October 31,” Thibinyane said. The court case, which was lodged in the High Court of Lesotho, was later withdrawn with the advice of the world mother body. Pheta, who was elected the new LAF president during the October 2020 controversial elective conference and Thibinyane who re-elected to his position of the secretary general, wanted the court to declare their committee illegitimate.
At the same time, the faction led by Serake, Maphathe and Mokonyana was busy with preparations for the elections which by then were set to take place in July this year. Maphathe confirmed in a separate interview on Tuesday that the said meeting was held on the very same day. The LAF spokesperson further confirmed that his committee’s term of office expired on October 31 last year.
“The truth is that the term of office for this committee expired on October 31 and this means it is about time for us to get a fresh mandate from the members, said Maphathe. And that fresh mandate should be handed before the March 31,” he said. Maphathe further confirmed that the suspensions of other LAF members were also declared null and void, and that the task committee comprises of Serake, Pheta, Makara and Mokonyana who must hit the ground running to prepare for the March elections.