Newly-appointed Minister of Youth and Sports Ulemu Msungama says the former governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) failed to develop sports during its regime.
However, DPP spokesperson Nicholas Dausi has accused the minister of deliberately turning a blind eye to the former government’s achievements in sports development.
In an interview on Friday, the outspoken new minister said: “There is really nothing to point at in terms of sports development by the former government.
“They let the country down big time and there are a lot of areas that we need work on.”
Msungama cited poor policies and lack of commitment.
He also faulted the previous regime for committing to build stadia for domestic football powerhouses—Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers—saying the move was more of political appeasement.
Said the minister: “These are privately-owned entities and government should not have committed to build stadia for them.
“Perhaps helping them to secure land so that they could build the stadia on their own could have been ideal.
“What happens if teams like Conforzi or Karonga United come and say they too want stadiums? Are we also going to offer them stadiums or turn them down and if we say no, on what basis?”
Msungama said government needs to construct stadia across the countrythat should benefit all teams and not just a chosen few, “because by so doing, we will be developing the game”.
However, he could not be drawn to comment on whether government will continue with the stadia projects for the two teams or not.
“It is something that we will have to look into and I will try to reach out to all relevant stakeholders,” he said.
However, Dausi took the minister’s sentiments with a pinch of salt.
He said: “We did a lot in terms of infrastructure development. Under the DPP administration, a number of stadia were build in the districts and others are still under construction.
“You talk of districts such as Karonga, Rumphi, Mulanje, Kasungu, Ntcheu, Thyolo, Mulanje and Zomba and these stadiums will help in the identification and development of talent.
“So, any sane person cannot stand up and claim that the DPP government did not do anything. Let’s move away from mere political tantrum.”
Dausi also said under the DPP administration, allocations for some sports associations such as football and netball increased by over 300 percent..
“Anyway, they are now on the driving seat, let us wait and see the work of their hands,” he said.
Sports analyst George Kaudza Masina said: “Sports development has always been controversial over the years with each administration having its own priorities which might not have been fully accepted by all.
“Lip service has always been a norm and using sport, especially football, as campaign tools to the detriment of sports in general.”
He said over the past six years, not much has been done in the development of sports.
“And it is incumbent upon the Chakwera administration to make sure that sports is taken as a priority and football in particular, which is regarded as a ‘religion’ the world over.
“A stakeholders meeting to review the current sports policy is a must if sports is to develop to the expected standards,” said Kaudza Masina.