As local bodies fail to resolve standoff
MASERU – Sports administrators have failed to resolve the tedious power struggle between national athletics officials – and a decision for a recommendation has been arrived at for the matter to be referred to the international Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) for settlement.
The decision was reached by the Lesotho National Olympic Committee (LNOC) and Lesotho Sport and Recreation Commission (LSRC) appointed electoral commission set up to oversee contentious poll processes relating to the athletics grouping, Public Eye can reveal.
CAS is the supreme international sport court based in Lausanne, Switzerland. This is the court which both the LSRC and LNOC always encourage sports administrators and athletes to take their cases to in times of dispute, rather than resorting to the courts of law.
This follows submission of a post-election protest from the Mafeteng District Athletics Association (MDAA) for the electoral process to be nullified.
The association’s gripe rests on a number of issues they claim were not handled accordingly prior and during the Lesotho Athletics Federation (LAF) elections held last month.
The electoral commission set up to conduct the latest poll, however, says they have advised both the LSRC and LNOC to refer the Mafeteng association to an arbiter who will look into the matter without bias.
A letter penned by the commission to disgruntled association reads in part: “We have analysed and considered all the points you raised and advice your good office as thus…the IEC issued its judgment on all issues raised by Mafeteng District Athletics Association (MDAA) ahead of the LAAA (as LAF was formerly called) executive committee elections.
However it is evident that your good office is not content with the IEC’s opinion.” The letter further reads: “In the interest of impartiality, the IEC therefore advices the LSRC and LNOC to refer the MDAA to the arbiter who will look at the matter without any bias.
We strongly acclaim that the best organisation to mediate between the MDAA, LAAA/LAF and the LAAA/LAF executive committee is the World Athletics (WA) through the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).”
The IEC further recommended that the newly elected executive committee should continue to hold office pending the finalisation of the matter.
The letter, which bears the signature of Palo Mohlotsane as the electoral commission’s chairman, is copied to CEO of LSRC, CEO of LNOC, WA, and Secretary General of LAF and to the athletics district associations. MDAA President Tlotliso Ntai confirmed receipt of the response to their letter of protest.
“We have received a response after complaining about the IEC’s handling of the recent elections,” said Ntai in an interview. “With the IEC saying they will advice LNOC and LSRC as our mother-bodies to refer our issues to CAS.”
Ntai, however, said they remained dissatisfied. He said it was not clear to them whether the advice for international arbitration had already been made or yet to be forwarded to the sports administration bodies.
“In fact, we are not clear whether they (IEC) have already done so or whether this is just their thinking. We fail to also get a clear picture when they say they advise that newly elected committee should hold the office pending the finalisation of the matter.”
Ntai further said: “We are not complaining about the elections. We are clear in our stance that there were people who should have not been part of us from the beginning and this take us back to where we said the recent elections were not were not constitutional if all the concerns raised before were to be taken into consideration.”
Both LNOC and LSRC Chief Executive Officers ’Mathato Makhorole and Teboho Malataliana respectively, as well as the LAF Secretary General, Thibinyane, all confirmed to have been copied the IEC letter.
“Yes, the letter was copied to us but the national executive committees of LNOC and LSRC have not yet met over the issue,” said LNOC CEO Makhorole in an interview with Public Eye on Tuesday.
Makhorole, however, was not sure when they would meet to deliberate over the recommendation of the IEC. “I will let you know when they meet,” she said.
LSRC Acting CEO Malataliana also said: “Yes, we have the copy of the IEC’s letter; as you will remember that IEC was set up by LSRC and LNOC.” Malataliana, however, said they had not yet received a response from the complainants.
“We haven’t yet received a response from the complainants and maybe we should be given a little bit of background on the issues at hand as there were many letters of complaints written before the actual elections following which we had intervened.
And the IEC had also made its recommendations before the elections, and even on the elections day the same complaints were addressed and it was agreed that the elections be held.”
Malataliana further said: “Because we say these issues were addressed and the elections were held and when the outcome (of the elections) is not the way other people thought it would be we once again have the same complaints. In that case, are we ever going to make the progress?”
LSRC Acting CEO sounded rather fed up that after his organisation and counterparts, LNOC, facilitated an amicable intervention in the matter the complainants still wanted to lodge the case with CAS.
He said this was despite their recommendation that the newly elected committee of LAF should be the one to mediate over the complaints.
Even though Malataliana was not specific on organisation’s stance regarding the IEC recommendation, he pointed out that going for CAS arbitration “would be costly for them.”