By Boitumelo Koloi
MASERU — The long-standing feud between the Lesotho Football Association (Lefa) and the sports ministry has been settled.
Lefa’s President Salemane Phafane and Minister of Gender and Youth, Sports and Recreation Thesele ’Maseribane buried the hatchet and made amends for the advancement of football in the country.
Addressing the media at a joint press briefing in Maseru, the duo said they met last week “with a view to finding a lasting solution for the benefit of football and all concerned”.
The meeting of the recently warring parties came after the recent spate of events which has seen the two in a purported power struggle over who should be at the helm of the administration of soccer in the country.
Phafane was of the view that the minister was jumping the gun and going beyond his jurisdiction thereby meddling in Lefa issues, while ’Maseribane was of the understanding that the President was challenging his authority as sports minister.
The two have — over past few weeks — been heavily involved in a bitter tag-of-war in the media.
A little over a fortnight ago, Phafane had called a media briefing to defend himself over the allegations of vote-buying levelled against him in the run-up to the recent presidential elections of the soccer governing body.
At the same media briefing, Phafane had bitterly complained about what he called the sports minister’s “attempts to have the country suspended from the international soccer body Federation of International Football Association (Fifa) by interfering with Lefa duties”.
Then the sports ministry, through the Principal Secretary (PS) Majara Molapo, had charged at Phafane, with all guns blazing, calling him corrupt and incapable of growing the country’s soccer as he had been highly implicated in the match fixing scandals dating as far back as 2007 and during the build-up to South Africa hosting the 2010 soccer World Cup. Molapo had mentioned Fifa President Sepp Blatter and his Secretary General Jerome Valcke as Phafane’s accomplices in the Fifa scandals.
Although Phafane had earlier denied reports by this paper that he had hosted some of the delegates to the Lefa elective congress, Molapo had confirmed that indeed the president “had financed the delegates” to stay at the Mafeteng based hotel in a bid to “buy” re-election votes from Lefa executive”.
Meanwhile, this week’s armistice saw ’Maseribane unequivocally withdraw the utterances by Molapo and make a public apology to all who have been affected by the said comments.
Phafane and ’Maseribane agreed to assess their relationship in a series of meetings meant to remedy the stance because, as it were, the situation was “not healthy for the promotion and development of football in the country”.
“In the instance, both the minister and president agreed that issues have to be dealt with by means of open, honest and cordial consultations” reads an extract of the joint press release by the duo.
Although the peace treaty was said not to have been influenced by the upcoming Cosafa youth tournament to be hosted by Lesotho, the two have committed to working together and harmoniously in delivering a memorable and spectacular competition.
Phafane said that he was “100 percent committed to the truce and would be very disappointed if the same wasn’t true with the minister”.
On the other hand, ’Maseribane said he was delighted with the development adding that it would even help him answer questions posed to him about soccer, Lefa and Cosafa in parliament because “recently I could not even answer some of the questions posed to me”.