Lioli fights intensify

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Moorosi Tsiane | Leemisa Thuseho

THE infighting at Lioli took a new twist yesterday with the interim committee accusing the club’s patrons, Lebohang Thotanyana and Chief Sempe Masupha of sabotaging their work.

The acting president, Lephethasang Hlajoane Lesaoana, yesterday accused Masupha of ordering the team’s sponsors, among them Alliance Insurance Company, to withhold the funds they remit to the club monthly.

This has forced the team to fail to pay its players for July 2020.

Lesaoana said this during a media briefing in Maseru yesterday.

The briefing was also attended by interim secretary Teboho Mofolo, interim president technical Moses Maliehe and committee members Mamoqebelo Semethe, Tsepo Shoai and Thamae Matjeke.

Lesaoana accused Masupha (chief patron) and former president Thotanyana of interfering with the team’s daily business.

Masupha recently wrote to both Alliance Insurance Company (sponsors) and Ramatheola Supermarket (tenants) asking them to stop disbursing funds to the committee as it was illegitimately in the office. In the letter seen by the Lesotho Times, Masupha said the committee was supposed to have issued a notice of its annual general meeting (AGM) last month and eventually convene the meeting this month as stipulated by the club’s constitution.

Lesaoana yesterday said both Alliance and Ramatheola have not released any funds and this has resulted in the team failing to pay players.

“It is wrong for the chief patron to interfere in the team’s affairs and make such decisions which affect the team negatively,” Lesaoana said.

“We have a letter which he wrote to our sponsors and tenants directing them to stop giving us money allegedly because we are here illegally.

“Patrons can only act on behalf of the team when they are assigned by the board through the president and this was never the case. It must be clear that our chief patron is not the owner of this team, he is just an ambassador and he can’t make such decisions although we respect him as our principal chief.”

He said they met with the patrons and the Berea District Football Association (DIFA) last Sunday and resolved that the chief patron should withdraw his letters but he was yet to do so.

The Lesaoana led committee was co-opted in January this year following the resignation of Lioli’s executive committee members. Executive members, Tšeliso Tekateka and two vice presidents; Lehlohonolo Thotanyana and Tšeliso Mou left just a few months after their appointment while Itumeleng Mpokathe followed suit a few weeks later.

Lesaoana, Maliehe, Teboho Mofolo and Tšepo Shoai were all co-opted to fill in the vacancies.

Lesaoana also rubbished claims that his committee was in the office illegally and were avoiding an elective AGM so that they may remain in the office. The committee has been accused of using the Covid-19 pandemic as the reason for which they cannot hold the AGM.

“The expectation was that we would hold the AGM this month as per our constitution… We sought a permit to hold an AGM last month but unfortunately, our application was denied by the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“However, last weekend the chief patron promised to negotiate for us with NACOSEC so that we get a permit to hold the AGM before this month end. Should we get the permit, then we don’t have any problems but it is the AGM that will determine whether or not we should hold elections. If it decides against elections, then we will remain in the office until 2022.”

Lesaoana accused Thotanyana of frustrating the interim committee to make way for his re-election.

“We suspect this is all Thotanyana’s doing because he wants to get back into the team’s leadership, which we don’t have a problem with.”

He also accused Thotanyana of feeding DIFA Berea with defamatory information alleging that Lesaoana’s committee was misusing funds.

Masupha could not be reached for comment yesterday while Thotanyana said we should contact him tomorrow (Friday) to comment on the allegations levelled against him.

For his part, Maliehe accused the patrons of frustrating the committee’s efforts to sign new players.

“Our failure to receive money from Alliance deterred us from signing players like John Mofokeng and Monaheng Velaphe from Lifofane because we needed money to seal the deal but our funds were frozen…”

Maliehe challenged Alliance to honour their contractual obligation with the club.

“Alliance must honour its contractual obligations. We have asked for the copy of the contract between Lioli and Alliance but we have been waiting in vain,” Maliehe said.

Alliance marketing manager Limakatso Mokobocho confirmed that they had stopped giving the team money. She said they were still trying to get clarity on what was happening at the club.

“We have stopped giving them money and that was because it came to our attention that there were some squabbles in the team and we needed to establish which committee was legitimate.

“We are aware that there were some uncertainties within the team because even when we wanted to meet them, we struggled,” said Mokobocho.

She however, could neither deny nor confirm receiving a letter from Masupha.

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