Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development Grace Chiumia has contradicted officials from her ministry on the status of Malawi Queens’ funding ahead of the Netball World Cup slated for July.
While the director of Sports in the ministry, Jameson Ndalama, confirmed receipt of funding request from Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) through the Malawi National Council of Sports last week, the minister told the media at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre on Saturday that the request has not reached her office.
“All the time we release funding whenever we get a request. Recently, we released funding for the national [football] team, so how can we leave out NAM when the team is doing well?
“We always say that they [NAM] should follow procedures and bring the request letter. I haven’t seen any request on my table and it’s sad for them to rush to newspapers.
“As government, we do not favour any sporting discipline. So, all I am asking is that we should follow procedures,” she said.
The minister also accused NAM of politicising the matter.
“Let’s concentrate on sports, if they want politics then they should just join us… But my appeal is that we shouldn’t be doing that and I urge NAM to change their approach,” said Chiumia.
However, in confirming the funding request from NAM and Football Association of Malawi (FAM), Ndalama last week told The Nation: “We got both NAM and FAM’s funding requests at the same time, but we had to consider football first because the Flames had to travel to e-Swatini for Chan [Championship of African Nations] qualifier and will have a second leg in two weeks.
“However, both budgets are being considered and they might be approved soon.”
NAM president Khungekile Matiya yesterday said she does not know what the minister wants from NAM.
“Was it NAM who wrote about the funding not being released? Does NAM make their requests directly to government?
“We are an affiliate of Sports Council and that is where we submit our requests. So, as far as we are concerned, we followed the proper procedures.
“If anything, she should ask her officials where the request is [because] Council already submitted the request to government,” she said.
The NAM president also said they are not involved in politics.
“It is unfortunate that being a woman, she is busy castigating us instead of supporting us.
“It is unfair for her to go on air and accuse us of doing politics, we are not!” said Matiya.
The Queens face a race against time to start preparations for the global event which will be held in Liverpool, England.
Social commentator Humphreys Mvula faulted Chiumia on the matter, saying: “It is wrong for a minister to discredit or pass disparaging remarks against an association under her or his ministry’s charge.
“I equally find it contradictory because the director of sports told the nation that they received funding requests from both FAM and NAM. Does it mean that she [the minister] speaks before consulting her technocrats?”
Mvula said the minister has a national responsibility to deal with all associations, including those that she does not like.
“She [the minister] must aspire to manage all associations equitably regardless of her opinion about them,” he said.