Tonse Alliance administration’s 100 days in office has been a mixed bag for sports as the new government has factored in the 2020/21 National Budget some of its promises.
Among others, in his State of the Nation Address (Sona) last month, President Lazarus Chakwera said the Tonse Alliance will construct a sports academy, a netball complex and embark on an ambitious nationwide project to rehabilitate existing youth centres.
He also said: “Simultaneously, 800 teachers will be trained in various sports disciplines, sports competitions in all disciplines will be revived at all levels and 500 schools that teach physical education will receive support.”
Out of these, the Tonse Alliance administration has allocated K1 billion towards the rehabilitation of Kamuzu Institute for Sports in Lilongwe, K780 million for the construction of Mzuzu Youth Centre while the netball court project got K300 million.
However, it has shelved some of the projects initiated by the previous regime such as the construction of stadia for privately-owned Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers.
The Minister of Youth and Sports Ulemu Msungama defended the move, saying it was not on their agenda.
He said: “We cannot prioritise what we did not promise.”
The Tonse Alliance administration also swiftly turned its back on the move by the previous regime to increase funding for the Presidential Initiative on Sports from K120 million to K400 million.
That is not all. The minister also said they would not proceed with the move to construct a new national stadium and netball complex at Njamba Freedom Park in Blantyre.
Instead, Msungama said the netball project would be moved to Lilongwe “because that was the initial plan”.
He also said instead of building a new stadium, he would propose demolishing Kamuzu Stadium and building a new one.
On reforms the new administration has shown signs of intent and Vice-President Saulos Chilima set the ball rolling by meeting Msungama and his team to discuss their plans.
He advised them to categorise the reform areas into administrative, legislative and functional “and then resubmit for further review”.
And when the Veep met management of Malawi National Council of Sports to appreciate the two reform areas they are undertaking—introduction of physical education in primary schools and introduction of electronic gate management system—he gave them some homework in a quest to breathe a new lease of life into the country’s sports governing body.
While commending council on these initiatives, Chilima said there should be a holistic effort to rejuvenate sports in the country.
“The feeling out there is that we have regressed as a country instead of progressing. Moving forward, I have advised the council to identify new reforms on financial sustainability so that in the long run, the institution checks itself from Treasury independence,” he said.
It was proof of how determined the new administration is to improving sports.
However, as has been the case in the past, funding still remains a challenge as allocation to Sports Council has stagnated at K2 billion which is far below the requested K3 billion.
Social commentator Humphrey Mvula said: “In the 100 days, the Tonse Alliance government has confirmed three major promises via inclusion in the budget currently under debate in Parliament.
“Unfortunately, the construction of stadia for Wanderers and Bullets have been shelved. The same is true about rehabilitation of Kamuzu Stadium. The start up plans are, however, very encouraging particularly the desire to seek better collaboration between government and the commercial world.”