For the past 37 years, the Sports ministry has changed ministers, but unfortunately, the industry has remained one of the most neglected by the government of Zimbabwe.
By MICHAEL KARIATI
Over the years, Zimbabwean national teams have withdrawn from international participation due to lack of funds and even boxer, Charles Manyuchi, had to relocate to Zambia so he could further his career as there was no support back home.
There was a time when the Zimbabwe diving team could not even afford to stay at the games village in Canada and the Zimbabwean divers had to be accommodated by some families who lived within that area. Yet this was a Zimbabwe national team.
At one time, the Zimbabwe kickboxing team had to borrow equipment from one of their competitors in order to participate in an international competition they had been invited to take part in. Imagine their opponents’ shock.
Only in January, the Warriors staged a sit-in, and even boycotted a presidential banquet, demanding payment before departure for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations finals, only for the government to chip in when the damage had already been done.
To make matters worse, some individuals have had to fund themselves to compete for Zimbabwe, yet upon return after succeeding, government officials would be seen on podiums making speeches as if they would have had an input in the victory.
Right now, most of the national sporting associations are operating from a zero budget and some are even using their leaders’ car boots as offices, raising questions on whether this is a country with serious sporting ambitions.
There was a time when it was thought or assumed that the education sector was consuming much of the funds allocated to sport, since it was at that time known as the ministry of Education, Arts, Sport, and Culture, under David Coltart.
However, even when sport was separated from education, to become the ministry of Sport, Arts and Culture under the stewardship of Andrew Langa, funds still did not percolate to those who needed them.
Of late, there had been a slight change in the ministry of Sport and Recreation under Makhosini Hlongwane, who — although without much sporting background, did his best. Unfornately, that best was still not good enough.
He, however, has been swept away by the winds of change, and the destiny of national sport has now been entrusted in Kazembe Kazembe, a former Dynamos secretary-general, who has been appointed the minister of Sport, Arts and Recreation.
The new minister does not have to be told of the events on the ground. The truth is that sport is in crisis — the Zimbabwe cricket team has fallen from grace to grass; the rugby Sables last qualified for the World Cup in 1991; boxing no longer exists in the country, while in athletics, Zimbabwe are still waiting for their first Olympic medal since 1980.
That is not all.
The Davis Cup team, which reached the quarter-finals of the World Group in 1998 has fallen to the Euro-Africa Zone Group Three, with little chances of reclaiming old glory, while swimming — with Kirsty Coventry having retired — looks doomed as there are no new heroes coming through.
So, the task on Kazembe’s hands is enormous, but the solution is simple — Zimbabwean sport needs money to regain its old glory. That is what Kazembe should bring if he is to avoid being counted among those who came and left having done nothing during their tenure as ministers of Sport.
So, welcome aboard Minister Kazembe Kazembe.
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