Government has abandoned plans to renovate Kamuzu Stadium and Kamuzu Institute for Sports despite President Peter Mutharika’s firm assurances on the same, Nation on Sunday has established.
Mutharika assured in his State of the Nation Address (Sona) in Parliament in May 2015 that the two sports facilities, which are in dilapidated state, would experience a facelift during the 2015/16 financial year but not only has the year passed without anything happening on the ground, but no funding has been allocated for the renovations in the 2016/2017 budget.
Ministry of Sports and Culture spokesperson Christopher Mbukwa said on Tuesday that they made a proposal of K100 million for the rehabilitation of each of the two facilities in the 2016/2017 financial year but no money has been allocated for the projects. He said their K450 million proposal for the construction of an indoor sports complex in Lilongwe has also been rejected.
In his Sona the President said: “In the 2015/2016 financial year, government will complete the construction of Bingu Stadium in Lilongwe…(as well as) rehabilitate (KIS) in Lilongwe and Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre.”
Later the same year, the President assured Malawians at a rally in Blantyre that his government would construct a new stadium in the commercial city and plans were underway.
However, there is still no light in sight on the future of the stadium despite the world football governing body, Fifa’s inspector Nicholus Musonye condemning the facility in 2011. Government structural engineers also declared it unfit due to cracks noted on some terraces, which pose a big risk to the lives of patrons although some high-risk areas were cordoned off.
“The continued neglecting of Kamuzu Stadium is worrying us because it is long overdue,” said Mbukwa. “We tried to push for its rehabilitation proposal but we have not been successful. We hope it will be considered next year.”
In his address this year, Mutharika did not mention anything about sports infrastructure development. However, according to Mbukwa, the completion of Bingu Stadium this year has been allocated K841 million; K341 million more than its proposed budget.
Nation on Sunday sent a questionaire to Mutharika’s press secretary Mgeme Kalilani on Thursday to find out why the President’s promise to rehabilitate the two facilities has not been fulfilled and if the skipping of Kamuzu Stadium renovation in the proposed budget means plans for the construction of new stadium in Blantyre are intact.
However, Kalilani had not yet responded to the questionaire as we went to press
The sports infrastructure woes come at a time sports associations such as Football Association of Malawi (FAM) and Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) have experienced big reductions on their annual allocations despite needing millions of Kwacha to fulfil national team engagements in major international events.
FAM and NAM needed at least K500 million each to fulfill their operations in the 2016/2017 financial year, but they have been allocated about K32 million apiece, over 60 percent less than the K100 million each got last year.
The development has prompted the community and social welfare committee of Parliament to fight for the review of the national budget so that sports should be considered, according to the committee’s chairperson Richard Chimwendo Banda.
“We are seeking immediate allocation of adequate funds for sports development. We have since written the Ministry of Finance about the issue. Sporting disciplines are denied resources in the country yet we expect them to do well in international events. This is very unfair,” said Chimwendo. n