- Rakgare says Botswana is going to do it alone “because quitting was never an option”
- Maun, Kasane, Gabs, Boatle, Lobatse and F/town identified for new stadia if bid is successful
- Minister says govt believes in the sincerity of Namibia’s reasons for quitting
The Minister of Youth, Sport, Gender and Culture, Tumiso Rakgare, has confirmed that Botswana has decided to go solo in bidding to host AFCON 2027 despite the heavy cost implications and complex logistics.
This is after Namibia pulled out of the joint bid at the 11th hour for financial constraints, leaving Botswana in a difficult position of also withdrawing the bid or doing it alone.
In terms of the initial joint bid agreement between the two nations, Botswana was to shoulder 60 percent (P4.667 billion) of the resources and Namibia 40 percent (P4.225 billion) of the total budget of P9 billion.
Speaking at a media briefing in Gaborone recently, Rakgare said the sports ministry had no choice but to continue with the bid and that the decision enjoyed the support of the entire government.
“Namibia’s decision caught us off guard and we had no choice but to move on,” he said. “I must emphasise that Namibia would not have entered the bid if they had known that they may have to withdraw along the way.
“They really had good intentions and we understood their reasons. I must also highlight that the bid book was about P65.6 million and we had to pop out P37 million while Namibia’s share was about P28 million and they made it clear that it was way too hefty.”
Not only about football
Rakgare stated that they are in talks with other ministries, especially the Ministry of Finance which will preside over the budget. “It is important for us to engage all stakeholders, especially government ministries, to see how they can assist us because this is not only about football,” said the minister.
“Winning the bid would bring massive benefits to the country, such as improved roads, other infrastructure, employment and citizen economic empowerment, hence the need to work as a unit. We want people to experience a new level of national unity for the 30 days of the tournament.
“The option of finding a replacement for Namibia does not exist any more as no reasonable country is going to be convinced to jump in without appreciation of the full implications.
“But I must reveal that we approached Zambia for possible collaboration but our efforts were futile. We are motivated to continue with the bid alone and are in to win it because quitting was never an option.”
Botswana is earmarking Maun, Kasane, Gaborone, Boatle, Lobatse and Francistown as sites for construction of new stadia if the bid is successful.
“We have had consultants coming to Botswana to audit the facilities and places that can accommodate new facilities,” Rakgare said. “We believe that everything will go well and we are not much worried.”
However, Botswana is facing tough competition from other contenders for the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations, among them Kenya alongside Uganda and Tanzania and Senegal with Morocco.