The Ministry of Finance has not allocated funds towards the Presidential Initiative on Sports (PIS) in the 2020/21 proposed national budget, casting doubt on the future of the programme which benefits over 30 disciplines.
Minister of Finance Felix Mlusu tabled the K2.2 trillion financial plan in Parliament on September 11 and it is currently being scrutinised.
In an interview yesterday, Minister of Youths and Sports Ulemu Msungama said the PIS does not fall among the Tonse Alliance administration’s budgetary priority areas.
The initiative, which was launched 10 years ago, was benefiting over 30 sports codes which annually received subventions for grass roots sports development and talent identification through competitions.
Said Msungama: “I can confirm that the national budget doesn’t have the presidential cups component. The reason is that the new government has a number of areas which need financing following the mess created by the previous government.”
The minister, however, said all is not lost as government is trying to source funds to ensure that the presidential tournaments are organised.
“We will do our best to ensure that the competitions are played. Whether the money will be allocated in the budget or we will source funding from somewhere, what I can assure you is that the competitions will be played,” he said.
The PIS was previously being funded at K120 million, but in the 2020/21 annulled National Budget, the previous administration raised it to K400 million.
Commenting on the matter, Malawi Boxing Association (Maba) president Pyson Likagwa said his sport will be among the worst-affected if government fails to finance the initiative.
“The presidential tournament is the only competition which amateur boxers contest in. It will be disaster if they don’t fund it as there will be nothing to motivate the young boxers to train hard,” he said.
Athletics Association of Malawi (AAM) general secretary Frank Chitembeya said he does not mind the non-funding of PIS since they stopped benefiting four years ago.
The Malawi National Council of Sports, which manages PIS funds, suspended funding AAM directly after uncovering financial mismanagement.
Said Chitembeya: “We don’t receive any presidential support so we don’t mind whether the funds are in the budget or not.”
“Our plea, however, is that government should increase annual subventions towards the sports associations’ operations. This is the only way we can develop sports and use the field to create jobs.”
On his part, Parliamentary Committee on Social and Community Affairs chairperson Savel Kafwafwa said they are pushing to ensure that the tournaments are maintained.
He said his committee had proposed that instead of phasing it out, government must re-design it so that it is more beneficial than now.
“I talked to the sports minister and we have agreed to have a meeting where the Social Committee and the Ministry will discuss the approach to the Presidential cups,” Kafwafwa said.
“It may just be that having got into the Premier League, Leeds decided that he was unlikely to get any game time in the first team and at 18, unlikely to get game time if put out on loan either.
“He will have cost them money to keep and would have more than likely spent his time sitting on a bench, which would have been unfair to him and unsettling.