DMSS accused of a ‘boardroom coup’

Some affiliates who were at the recent Botswana Swimming Sport Association(BSSA) Annual General Meeting(AGM) where a new committee was voted, are accusing the biggest swimming club in the country Darrell Morton Swimming School(DMSS) of manipulation and dominance during the elections.

Information turned up by Gazette Sport is that DMSS held the meeting ransom, making sure its affiliates are a majority in the committee. “The main affiliate, DMSS, dominated the meeting which was clearly pre arranged, the voting was clearly pre arranged as well. There was a dispute for 7 hours over the authenticity of the presidential nominee nominated by DMSS,” said a source who preferred anonymity.

The source said, DMSS being the biggest swimming club and profit making club, took over the BSSA committee unconstitutionally. Our source told us that according to the BSSA constitution, the nominees for the position of chairman or president did not meet the criteria. Clubs whose members were nominated, tried to push for the constitution to be followed but were not acknowledged due to dominance of DMSS, according to the informer.

“The constitution clearly states how many members,swimmers an affiliate needs at Nationals. When this was overlooked the DMSS chairperson was silent but when the presidential position was questioned by another affiliate this caused a five hour debate for the current committee to overlook this serious clause, the debate of the chairmanship,” said the source.

Another source who was at the AGM said the outgoing committee decided to adjourn the meeting to seek mediation but DMSS and their nominees refused. The informer said DMSS members demanded  the meeting to continue despite the Constitution not being followed.

This resulted in three members of the outgoing committee walking out of the AGM according to the source. The source said the oncoming committee took over office unconstitutionally and by force

after a meeting that lasted for seven hours.
According to the BSSA Constitution, in Article 11, point iii) for one to be elected for the position of chairperson she/he must have: 1) Previously served on the BSSA executive management committee. 2) Held a chair position within another swimming organization.

The sources are challenging the decision by the past committee to let Ruth Van der Merwe who is the current president, contest the elections. According to sources, Van der Merwe was an ineligible nominee because she never served the BSSA executive management committee.

The new chairperson, vice chairperson,  secretary, assistant secretary and treasurer of BSSA are all affiliated to DMSS. Affiliates suspect that this will leave BSSA open to monopoly and personal gain. The newly elected committee comprises of president – Van Der Merwe(President, Andrew Freeman (vice president), Bongi Ruele(Secretary) and Kabelo Maje(Secretary General)

The oncoming president van Der Merwe refereed our questions to the ongoing committee which was led by Sarah Lappen. The former BSSA president said she chooses not to comment on the issue as it is her understanding that the matter and appeals have been brought to the attention of the BNSC Board Chairperson.
“I would not like to compromise the process in any way. It is my request that we allow the BNSC and possible other avenues the opportunity to consider this matter so that a legal and fair outcome can be found for all individuals who stood nominated for positions to the new BSSA executive,” said Lappen.

DMSS owner and reputable swimming trainer Darrell Morton rubbished the allegations made against his club saying they are “false and unfounded.”
“BSSA have nine clubs which participated in the AGM and there is no how DMSS can dominate or manipulate the committee. He said such allegations can only come from a disgruntled person who want to discredit DMSS,” said Morton.

Morton said the claim that Van Der Merwe was voted ineligibly can only mean that some disgruntled affiliates are trying to discredit her. Botswana National Sport Council (BNSC) are said to have been met by those who are against the new committee. Lappen also admitted that “the matter and appeals have been brought to the attention of the BNSC Board Chairperson.” BNSC could not be reached for confirmation nor comment.