The Sports Council Act has not been amended 47 years after it was gazetted in 1974, a development that has contributed to the poor development of sports, Nation on Sunday understands.
Sports Council Board chairperson Sunduzwayo Madise confirmed in an interview on Wednesday the Act has been overtaken by events, rendering the Malawi National Council of Sports somehow ineffective.
The Act was gazetted to establish the Malawi National Council of Sports to provide oversight on the development of all sport in Malawi, replacing Advisory Council for Sport.
The Act states that the council shall consist of not less than eight and not more than 10 members, who shall be appointed by the minister by notice published in the Gazette and that the Sport Minister shall designate one member as chairperson of the council and another member as deputy chairperson .
It further states that the functions of the council are to develop, promote, encourage and control all forms of sport in Malawi on a national basis.
The Act also gives powers to the Sports Council to register sports associations in order for them to operate in the country.
The Act reads in part: “If, at any time after the commencement of this Act, a national sports association, not being a registered association under this Act, operates in Malawi as a National sports association, every person concerned in the management of the said national sports association shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of K200 and to imprisonment for three months.”
Madise said the Act is outdated as seen by the fine of K200 which makes Sports Council ineffective when discharging its duties.
He said: “To say the truth, the Act is indeed outdated. It was gazetted long time ago during the one-party State before democracy. Many of the things in the act are not applicable today. We have reviewed the Act and the draft will go to the Ministry of Sports and Ministry of Justice. We have ensured that these problems are solved.”
“There is need for a functional review. We need to restructure the council for it to deliver better. Even the structure has been there for decades. Are we delivering what we wanted? Do we have the structures to do that? Much more importantly, do we have the capacity?”
The Act does not provide the structures of the Sports Council secretariat which is crucial in the implementation of the Sports Council board’s policies.
For instance, Malawi National Council of Sports has been operating without a chief executive officer for over two years now since May 2019 after Ministry of Youth and Sports decided against renewing George Jana’s contract after serving in that capacity for 16 years.
This is in violation of Statutory Bodies (Control of Contracts) (Amendment) Act, 1966 which does not allow such a set-up.
Madise also admitted that the Act needs to be amended to suit the needs of modern sports associations.
He said: “The way the council was run that time is different from now. With the democratisation, things have changed. There are more associations.
“The demands, needs and expectations of associations are different. Associations are being managed in a different way. The sports disciplines have ballooned.”
While the Act says the council’s function is to oversee sports, Madise said it fails to give the board a legal framework to do so.
He said: “The powers are too general. They need to be specific. We need to have an Act that lays the regulatory framework. Our ambition is that council should oversee sports but much more importantly, it should be a proper regulator.
“For example, the Act says associations should submit audited reports at the end of the year, but what if they don’t? It does not say what we should do. That is what we need to consider. Making us a proper regulator that can go to an association and tell them that this is not in line with the Act. If we do that out effectiveness will be better.”
Netball Association of Malawi Isaac Chimwala said they woud love to see the Act ammended to address challenges sports associations are facing.
He said: “The Act should be able to provide direction to Sports Council on how it can help in development of sports, more especially from grassroots.
“Government can say all companies operating in the same threshold should contribute a certain percentage towards grassroots sports development.
“The Act should also provide a legal framkework on how the corporate world can benefit from sponsoring sports.
“Right now there are no incentives for sponsors.”
Director of Sports Jameson Ndalama said the Ministry of Sports is aware of the need to review the Act.
He said: “The review of the Sports Council Act is indeed long overdue. But be reminded that that is a process and takes time.
“It is something needs input from experts from various disciplines so that we come up something that addresses all these challenges.”