Just as South Africans were up in arms condemning their Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula for withdrawing the rights of their rugby, cricket, athletics and netball bodies to bid to host international tournaments due to their lack of transformation – I on the other hand was truly inspired by Mbalula’s bold move which then forced me to embark on a ”fact-finding” mission.
Since Namibia is also faced with the similar predicament, to get started with my ”fact-finding” mission my first step was to visit the Namibia Sports Commission (NSC) website just to acquaint myself first-hand with information with regard to the Vision, Mission and Objectives of the NSC – as a custodian body of Namibian sport.
Although I was truly impressed with the Vision and Mission of the NSC, something that particularly struck my mind were the Strategic Objectives of the NSC, which among other things are to efficiently allocate resources, continuously monitor and assess challenges addressed at sport body and NSC level.
I then extracted these words – “to continuously monitor and assess challenges addressed at sport body and NSC level” from that sentence, which I believed were enough to fully guide me in my fact-finding mission.
Upon completion of my mission and after carefully studying the extracted words, I was convinced that the NSC has badly failed in its own Strategic Objectives of “to continuously monitor and assess challenges addressed at sport body and NSC level”.
First and foremost, the NSC has over the past few years been heavily bombarded with questions and equally complaints about the visible lack of transformation in certain quarters of Namibian sport. The media has also fully played its part in reporting various incidences of ongoing segregation in local sport but to date, no answers are forthcoming and no drastic measures have been taken to remedy the situation.
In fact, further study of the NSC Strategic Objectives also led me to believe that they don’t have a practical or implementable policy in place to address lack of transformation in local sport.
And then I also remembered last year’s multi-million dollar three-day National Sports Conference that was held in Windhoek, which was primarily aimed at identifying opportunities for growth, while also developing strategies which will increase and enhance participation at all levels of sport.
But despite the millions spent on the three-day conference and the bunch of speeches delivered on the occasion, the NSC has still not provided or shared with the nation – let alone the media – the outcomes of the much hyped but seemingly pointless conference.
If the blueprint that embodies the proposals from the sports conference is lying idle and gathering dust in the NSC cabinets – and that’s if it is really there – then when are we implementing the recommendations made at the conference? When will the document be made public and how will those recommendations be implemented?
During the conference, the then chairperson of the NSC Preparatory Committee for the Sport Conference Ndeulipula Hamutumwa also promised that the conference was targeting to improve grass-roots participation and skills development, with a strong focus on forming strategic partnerships to alleviate the obstacles.
Now more than one year down the line, Namibian athletes still find themselves in the very same predicament, which South African Sport Minister Mbalula has now chose to fight with whatever means possible.
We understand that poor funding to the NSC from our line ministry is a well known factor destructing the growth of sport in Namibia, but how do you expect adequate funding if the NSC itself does not even have a strategy in place to take Namibian sport forward? What are we doing with the little that we get from government?
We can’t sing the same old song of “We are poorly funded” for the past 26 years – the NSC needs to urgently prove its relevance and seriousness in taking local sport to the next level. With the powers vested in the NSC by government, it should not be that difficult to go out of their way and do whatever possible to get the desired transformation.
Why not take the Fikile Mbalula route?
If it is the last option, let’s take the Fikile Mbalula route and set serious transformational targets for all sports codes. Yes, I know this kind of statement will not go down well in certain quarters, but at this point it appears to be the only solution to get the desired transformation.
I know my friends living on the other side of town will be talking about how this is an abuse of their human rights, about how no one can force transformation and about how quotas don’t work; all of which will miss the point which is the legitimacy of transformation. For me it is not much about demography and representing the country, it’s about the legitimacy of such transformation.
Like I indicated, Mbalula’s move is actually just a simple prod to remind sports administrators that government, and in our case the NSC, does have the powers to bring about change at whatever cost. That’s why I’m insisting the NSC revisits its mandate and objectives and reevaluate its powers, which will then guide them in succeeding. Till next time, sharp sharp!!