MASERU – Lesotho Athletics Federation (LAF) leadership has failed to suspend or shorten constitutional processes leading to its extra-ordinary electoral conference, per recommendations and a nudge from World Athletics. The meeting had to be cancelled following uproar by member club representatives over the legitimacy of Qacha’s Nek Athletics’ membership to the LAF.
LAF’s Public Relations Officer, Sejanamane Maphathe, said his office, therefore, rescheduled a fresh virtual meeting for Monday this week to make up for last Saturday’s meeting which failed to proceed. He said the Monday meeting also failed to reach finality “as our time on Zoom (free 30 minutes) ran out before we could conclude the meeting.”
“Saturday’s meeting adjourned because of the argument over constitutional issues,” said Maphathe in an interview with Public Eye on Wednesday. “Some of the members raised concerns immediately after they saw the rollcall, saying some of them had no locus standi.”
Maphathe said as a result, the office of the secretary general and of the treasurer were asked to check their facts to verify the concerns raised by the members, while the meeting was suspended until Monday. He said after that members received letters from the committee with a proposal of which the sections of the constitution may be suspended in order to be able to hold upcoming fresh elections.
“Then on Monday a virtual Special Meeting was convened and unfortunately the meeting also did not serve the purpose after our time (on the Zoom) ran out.” Maphathe, however, said his organization was expecting its members to continue endorsing their opinions on those clauses even after the Monday meeting. He said a deadline for the endorsement of such opinions was Thursday, February 24.
“And hopefully another meeting will be convened very soon after members finish with their endorsements.” Berea Athletics’ Secretary General, Thabelo Ranthona, said last Saturday’s meeting couldn’t proceed after they questioned the legitimacy of Qacha’s Nek’ Athletics membership with LAF.
He said this was after they found out that Qacha’s Nek Athletics failed to pay membership fee until after the deadline, which he said was July 31, 2020. “So that’s basically the argument which caused the adjournment of the meeting last Saturday, as we questioned the legitimacy of Qacha’s Nek in that meeting,” said Ranthona.
“Our argument was that Qacha’s Nek should not be part of the athletics meetings until it sorts out its membership fee issue.” Ranthona said they found out that Qacha’s Nek Athletics only produced a confirmation of payment of subscription, just a day before last Saturday’s meeting, dated February 19. “That’s when we found out that Qacha’s Nek failed to pay membership fee until the deadline, and that means it is no longer a member of LAF, as we all know that you are a member because you paid a membership fee,” Ranthona said.
LAF has already announced that the fresh elections would be held on March 20. This was following the pressure by World Athletics who told the local athletics organization to make it or break it. The world athletics governing body warned LAF that if it could not hold the fresh elections before end of March this year, Lesotho will lose its membership with World Athletics. LAF has been forced to hold the fresh polls following a tussle between the two apparent factions fighting for the leadership of the local athletics organization.
The fight for LAF leadership became apparent ahead of the controversial last October elections which continued despite the tribunal arbitration’s judgment that the Special General Meeting held a month before was unconstitutional and all the decision made during the meeting were null and void. One of the decisions reached at the same meeting was to hold the recent LAF executive elections (the last October polls), and the decision was disputed by three member districts clubs, Berea Athletics, Mafeteng Athletics and Maseru Academy.
The trio’s argument was proved by the arbitration that the meeting was indeed unconstitutional and therefore all the decisions reached were null and void. But the October elective conference went on and the LAF Vice President, Tšeliso Pheta, was elected as the new president of the organization with Makara Ntaitsane retaining his position as the General Secretary of the federation. LAF President Makhaola Serake, Public Relations Officer Maphathe and Treasurer Kokolia Mokonyana were not part of the conference.