Will emergence of Berraf usher in era of reconciliation in African Olympic Movement?
Asks Tony Nezianya
Algerian, Mustapha Berraf has just emerged as the helmsman of the African Olympic Movement – the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) as its president.
He was elected President during an Extra-Ordinary General Assembly, which took place on the sidelines of the General Assembly of Association of National Olympic Committees in Tokyo, Japan on Nov. 29.
The attempt to produce a president through the ballots in Djibouti in –2017 failed when one of the candidates for the top post was disqualified for a breach of `Ethics’.
Cameroonian Hamad Kalkaba Malboum was disqualified in the run up to the Djibouti on May 9, 2017 polls but some members of the Movement would not condone the disqualification and were not prepared to have a president by mere acclamation.
Gen. Lassana Palenfo of Cote d’Ivoire, who was the lone candidate left in the race for the presidency after the disqualification had moved to be accepted as the re-election president but this disqualification did not go down well with many members.
Opponents of Kalkaba Malboum, the Africa Athletics President, was accused of trying to reach members of ANOCA through diplomatic channels, using the foreign missions of his country to campaign for him for the top post.
There was also a leaked document from his country’s President, where he sought some funding to induce members to sway their votes. These were considered ethically deplorable.
While some said this was an attempt at bribery, others did not see it as such. There was a stalemate and the matter was referred to the International Olympic Committee Ethic Committee to adjudicate.
Meanwhile, Kalkaba, headed to Court of Arbitration to judge in order to clear him of wrong doing. In the end after months of hard-fought legal battle obtained a favourable judgement, clearing him of wrongdoing. The judgement recommended a rerun Kalkaba to participate.
Subsequently, the election of Palenfo was called to question an at ANOC meeting, it was unanimously agreed that he be divested of the leadership of ANOCA until after a new polls.
It was at this point that Mustapha Berraf was asked to mount the saddle as Acting President of ANOCA.
There after election was fixed for Japan during the meeting of ANOC. The quest for the position was thrown open to allow new entrants into the race after Palenfo voluntarily pulled out of the race.
At the Japan polls, first round of the ballot, Berraf scored 27 with Burundian Nsekera scoring16 and Kalkaba 11 but by the second between Berraf and Nsekera in the second round polled 34 to Nsekera’s 20 to emerge as the undisputed choice by a wider audience.
Earlier, Negroes Kgotsietsile of Botswana had withdrawn before the election.
An IOC source predict a bright future ahead as Berraf would be assuming leadership at a trying time for the African Olympic body.
“He is coming with considerable experience, 15 of which he spent as first Vice-President of ANOCA.
“Berraf was for many years at the top of the Algerian Olympic Committee as its President’’.
Perhaps, the only snag has been his sour relationship with the Algerian Ministry of Sports.
It is hoped that he would move in to restore normalcy with his country’s Government in order to enjoy the cooperation that would pave way for harmony, so as to promote the desired progress in the African Olympic Movement.
According to Mitchell Obi, President, Association of International Sports Journalists – Africa (AIPS-Africa), Africa decided for continuity.
“Berraf understands the character and make up of African members of the Movement. He is diligent and assessable but his diligence and commitment to offer reconciliatory tone will mark him out.
“He has been in the system long enough to understand that Africa needs to change gear: and coming from Algerian that has just hosted Youth Games, he is better positioned to understand that the future of the sports belongs to the youths.
“His agenda to make the difference, move to reconcile various interests and break new grounds to mark him out as Africa Sports leader to watch.’’
Speaking shortly after the victory, he was quoted as saying: “we must bring everyone together for a better future for our organisation.
“It will be a new way of working that will be inclusive – I want everyone’s brain to be picked and contribute to the work of ANOCA.
“The functioning of ANOCA must be remodelled and changed to make sure that it is becoming more efficient. It will be a new start for ANOCA and we must be modernised from now on building through good governance and using transparency in our work.
“Obviously there are still some conflicts which are not resolved but we will work on them. We will make sure any problem is resolved with the contribution of everyone.’’
He was emphatic when he added: “there has been no winner, no loser, we are all brothers and sisters and I thank you.’’
Future undertakings by ANOCA will determine if action can me marched with words. Only time will tell. ##