As chess president squares up with Mazenod Chess Club
MASERU – President of Chess Federation of Lesotho (CFL), Tšeliso Motloheloa, has been caught up in dogfight following an International Chess Federation (FIDE) grant US$5 000 (M73 000) for national chess development. A row has erupted between Motloheloa and the club, Public Eye can reveal, as the embattled president seeks to seize chess equipment donated to the Mazenod Primary School by the CFL a few years ago.
Sources close to the saga say Motloheloa’s attempts to repossess the equipment, which includes chess boards, cropped up after the CFL received the US$5 000 from FIDE for chess development in the country. The funding, according to CFL Deputy Secretary, Khiba Selatela, is intended to buy chess equipment, introduce chess to prisoners, children in primary schools as well as visually impaired persons as well as to encourage more women to join the sport.
And sources within the CFL claim that Motloheloa is trying to get back the equipment already donated to redistribute for the FIDE funded chess development project. Motloheloa, sources add, has won a tender to supply the CFL with chess equipment under the same FIDE funded project. “He has won the tender to supply the federation (CFL) with equipment, and that is the reason he is out to get back the chess equipment given to some schools so that he doesn’t have to buy new equipment to service the tender,” said one source.
Mazenod Chess Club team manager, Tiisetso Rasheleng, said Motloheloa came to the school in person to fetch the equipment, but that the school management refused to release the equipment. “We asked him to come in the following day hoping that he would bring along a letter from the federation as proof that the equipment had to be send back to the CFL’ but he arrived empty-handed,” said Rasheleng in an interview with Public Eye on last Sunday.
Motloheloa, Rasheleng said, then told them that no proof was needed when he was around because he was the head of the federation, and that the equipment is fully responsible to him. He continued that :“We told him that even though he was responsible for the equipment, it was given to us through formal correspondence in the form of officials letters; that it was never borrowed, but granted as a donation.” Rasheleng said after the school management refused to hand over the equipment, the chess president reported them to the police.
“We said the same thing to the police. That we could not give him the equipment without a letter from the federation confirming the same, or that all members of the committee should be present because the school’s equipment is recorded and could not be released on somebody’s whim,” Rasheleng continued.
His request hitting a brick wall, the CFL boss told then threatened to pursue the legal route. Police Spokesperson, Senior Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli, was unreachable on his two mobile phones to confirm the reports of police involvement in the matter.
Selatela, who is also the CFL Public Relations Officer, told this publication that the was yet to verify all these allegations. “Maybe after we have had a meeting as a committee I will be in a position to answer you,” Selatela said. The CFL spokesperson could also not confirm allegations that Motloheloa has won the tender for the supply of chess equipment to the federation. But sources within the CFL remain adamant that some members of the executive committee are aware of Motloheloa exploits are not impressed.
“There are things that some of the people in the executive have done, and they are not proud of them,” said one CFL executive member who asked to remain anonymous. Motloheloa, who initially refused to comment on the matter directing this reporter to the CFL PRO, downplayed the feuding; he asked the reporter whether he called the allegations news.
“Are you calling this news,” Motleheloa asked. “Do you think I went to Mazenod to steal the equipment?” Motloheloa further said: “This is low, even for you.” The CFL boss also said what Public Eye was asking him was shallow, and that he didn’t answer shallow things.
He, furthermore, told the reporter not to ever ask him anything until the Public Eye editor publishes an apology concerning an earlier article which the paper carried regarding allegations of misappropriation of funds intended for chess development in the country some five years ago.
According to the African Chess Confederation President, Lewis Ncube, Motloheloa misappropriated US$15 000 (about M200 000 at the time). Ncube wrote to the then Lesotho Sports Minister, Mathibeli Mokhothu, in 2016, advising him that Motloheloa should not continue holding the office of the local chess federation presidency, according to the international chess regulations.
Motloheloa’s case concerning the same misappropriation of funds ended up in the courts of law while his car, suspected to have been bought using the same funds, was the same year confiscated by the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offence (DCEO).
Motloheloa was also suspended by the CFL for the same offence, together with the then CFL Vice President, Lesaoana Mohale, and the former Secretary General Mokone Moshe. Mohale and Moshe were suspended because CFL members suspected that they had leaked the story of the stolen misappropriation to this publication. All the three officials were reinstated to their positions after 18 months.