FROM Joice Mujuru in 1980 and now to Makhosini Hlongwane via David Kwidini, Witness Mangwende, Aeneas Chigwedere, David Coltart and Andrew Langa; Zimbabwe’s ministers of sports have made too many promises which they have not been able to fulfill.
In December 2015, Hlongwane made a pledge that his ministry would fund all national teams and individuals representing Zimbabwe on the international platform this year.
So far, that looks like yet another broken promise as Zimbabwean teams have already begun taking part in international competitions without the promised government funding.
The Warriors are in Rwanda for the 2016 Africa Nations Championships without the promised funding. Kalisto Pasuwa’s team went to the tournament without having played a single friendly match, even against neighbouring countries like Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland, Mozambique or Malawi, which would not have cost the government much.
The result of that lack of practice was evident in the Warriors 1-0 defeat to Zambia. The Warriors looked scared of their opponents since most of them were playing at that level of competition for the first time.
For the record, of the 23-member squad, only captain Hardlife Zvirekwi was at the last Africa Nations Championships in South Africa in 2014.
Politicians are known for making promises which they do not honour — especially in their constituencies — but when it comes to national service, they should do what they promise.
What the nation does not want is to see the minister making speeches at the airport or at victory celebration parties when government would not have invested in that success.
Hlongwane, as well as Chigwedere and Langa before him, have all talked about tax rebates to sport sponsoring companies. However, 36 years down the line, the companies have not yet benefitted anything from those tax rebates as the issue has not even been taken to Cabinet.
Chigwedere is gone. Langa has also been lost to the sports family and Hlongwane, who is now in their place, has also been preaching the same gospel but, like his predecessors, he is failing to follow the talk with action.
Due to this lack of motivation more and more companies have abandoned their involvement in sport and the few that have braved on have cut their budgets drastically.
Some might argue that Hlongwane is still new in his job and that it is too early to judge him, but in sport, there is no time and action needs to be taken from the first day.
The Warriors’ Africa Nations Championship trip is now water under the bridge, but there are other international engagements which the government should start investing in right now.
The 2016 Olympic Games are just around the corner. A number of Zimbabwean athletes, among them the Mighty Warriors, swimmer Kirsty Coventry, rowers Micheen Thorncroft and Peter Purcell-Gilpin, as well as marathon runners Wirimai Juwao, Cuthbert Nyasango, Pardon Ndlovu and Gilbert Mutandiro, have all qualified for the games.
The last time Zimbabwe’s athletes were there, they came back empty-handed as they had not prepared fully for the international sporting extravaganza. Now that the athletes that are participating in the games are known, it is time for the minister and the government to honour their pledge.
The athletes need as much international participation as they can get so that they fine-tune themselves for the games. Financially, they cannot afford it. Unfortunately, the corporate world has been hard hit by the harsh economic climate, and so cannot help.
The only solution lies with the government. This is the time for them to invest in the Olympics team if medals are to be realised at the global sporting festival. Zimbabwe cannot afford another failure at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
It will not do any good to the name of the country.
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