Malawi National Council of Sports (MNCS) has withheld funding for the 2019/20 edition of Presidential Initiative on Sports and demanded sports associations to submit reports for previous events.
In a letter titled ‘Suspension of Presidential Initiative on Sports’ addressed to all the associations on September 20 2019, the council stated that it has taken the action because associations have been undermining a requirement to submit the reports for the past two months.
MNCS sports development manager Ruth Mzengo, who signed the letter on behalf of the council’s acting executive secretary Henry Mereka, confirmed the development on Monday, saying the associations will not be funded unless they explain how they used the 2018/19 edition allocation.
She said that the annual event, which is meant to nurture sports talent, is funded with taxpayers’ money; hence, the need for associations to provide financial and administrative reports for accountability.
Mzengo said: “In the absence of the reports, we would not have fair and comprehensive evaluation of the previous events as regards achievements, challenges and recommendations to improve implementation of the programme and determine their financial prudence.
“It is sad that associations always wait to be pushed before submitting such vital reports.”
The council’s letter stated in part: “Reference is made to our email of August 1 2019 in which the council was calling on all associations that benefit from the PIS funding to submit narrative and financial reports for the year 2018/2019. We wish to advise that the council has not received any of such reports to date.
“We write with regret to announce that funding for the 2019/2020 [edition] will not be made available to any association until the reports are made available to ensure meaningful delivery of the programme.”
Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture Principal Secretary Chauncy Simwaka, who is copied the letter, backed Sports Council for the action.
‘‘For us to get funding we account for it, soo too with Sports Council. If affiliates cannot account for their funding, they cannot get funding. It’s a regular funding exercise,” he said.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) general secretary Alfred Gunda said they submitted the report, but could not respond when asked to state when such a submission was made while Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) general secretary Carol Bapu could not comment on why they have not yet responded to the Council’s order.
Chess Association of Malawi (Chessam) spokesperson Alfred Chimthere also claimed to have submitted the reports, but could not say when.
“I have checked with our treasurer and it is clear that we submitted our reports to the Council,” he said.
Nevertheless, he admitted that the suspension would be a big blow because Chessam relies on the annual competition to identify and nurture talent from the grassroots level.
While saying they did not get last year’s PIS funding, Basketball Association of Malawi (Basmal) general secretary Edgar Ng’ong’ola said it is difficult for sports bodies to provide the reports because they get “peanuts” for their events.
“As Basmal, we did not receive last year’s K1 million funding because we were hoping to combine our allocation to conduct a meaningful event in the next edition.
“If you do a cost-benefit analysis, you will note that associations would spend a lot to produce the reports taking into account the amount we get,” he said.
But Mzengo said: “No matter how little the PIS funding could be, it is imperative for associations to “report back to the council on how they used the money for accountability purposes.”
Some of the PIS major beneficiaries are FAM, NAM, Chessam, Basketball Association of Malawi (Basmal) and Hockey Association of Malawi (HAM).
Most of the associations bank on the PIS funding to organise talent identification exercises due to lack of corporate sponsorship in the country.