Government will continue to lose a lot of taxpayers’ money in lawsuits, maintenance of public sports infrastructure and compensation in case of eventualities as the facilities are not insured.
Insurance expert Donbell Mandala and sports analyst George Kaudza Masina made the observation in reaction to government’s admission that almost all public sports facilities in the country such as stadia are not insured.
The development comes a few days after the High Court in Lilongwe awarded K251 million in compensation to families of eight children who died and 48 others that sustained injuries during a stampede at Bingu National Stadium as the country celebrated 53rd independence anniversary with a friendly football match between Nyasa Big Bullets and Silver Strikers on July 6 2017.
Mandala, who is Nico General Insurance chief executive officer, said insuring sports facilities acts as a safety net that reduces the burden on government resources as insurance companies take responsibility of sorting out accident victims and rehabilitating damaged property.
He said there are two types of insurance for sports facilities; one is for material damage from fire, flooding or earthquakes while the other is liability insurance that sees people such as athletes, patrons and workers being compensated when they get injured, die or lose property as a result of eventualities at sports facilities.
“With an average premium of K7 million to K10 million per year, facility owners can insure a multi-billion kwacha stadium,” Mandala said.
“This means government can make big savings on expenses as insurance companies take the responsibility of repairing the damages and compensating the liabilities. In this case, government would not go into its coffers and, instead, it would use such money for other valuable social investments in the economy.”
Kaudza Masina said if government and stakeholders are serious on taking sports as a business, sports facilities need to be insured.
“Our sporting activities are run at an amateur level and no wonder the issue of insurance has never been in the vocabulary of our policy makers and implementors. If we are to take sports as a business, public sports infrastructure have to be insured,” he said.
However, the former Football Association of Malawi general secretary, who is a chartered marketer, said such an initiative can only be successful with a vibrant national sports policy in place.
“The policy, as of now with our sports infrastructures, is ‘use at owners risk’ and this works well with the authorities as they do not have a responsibility to care for in case of eventualities,” he said.
Kaudza Masina added that the current situation might compromise athletes’ output as they would not want to risk knowing they might hardly be compensated in case of accidents because sports infrastructures they use are not insured.
On his part, Minister of Youth and Sports Ulemu Msungama said government is unable to rectify the problem due to an outdated national sports policy.
“We are currently working on a national sports policy, which is a guide that can give us a clear direction on our sports endeavours. An updated policy will help us address such problems,” he said.