Just as Namibians were recovering from the scandalous rape allegations of disgraced Olympic boxer Junias Jonas, the country yesterday again woke up to more disastrous news – that Namibian Paralympians might not make it to this year’s games.
A group of enraged Paralympic athletes yesterday stormed the office of the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service to uncompromisingly demand their outstanding performance bonuses that were promised to them by the ministry.
According to the aggrieved athletes, the ministry promised to pay them performance bonuses if they won medals at last year’s All Africa Games in Congo-Brazzaville, but they have received nothing to date and thus threatened to boycott this year’s Paralympics – slated for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from September 7-18 – unless they receive their outstanding monies.
As such, they gave the ministry until today (Thursday) to positively respond to their demands or they would snub this year’s Paralympics.
Speaking to New Era Sport late yesterday, an evidently sick-and-tired Ananias Shikongo said the entire team of athletes have decided not to board the plane to Rio until their demands are heard and an amicable solution is found in addressing their plight as disabled athletes.
Shikongo, who is one of the country’s top Para-athletes and a serious medal hopeful at this year’s Paralympic games, won two gold medals at last year’s All Africa Games and is yet to receive his promised performance bonus.
Most of the athletes that demonstrated in front of the ministry’s offices, demanding to see minister Jerry Ekandjo, were those that performed extremely well at previous international competitions, such as the World Championships, Commonwealth Games and All Africa Games.
“The minister promised us performance bonuses and jobs for our good performances over the years but nothing is forthcoming to date. Our President speaks of the Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP) and that no one should feel left out, but we are left out. We put in extra hard work to make our country proud but at the end of the day we get nothing but a bunch of handshakes from government officials,” fumed the visually-impaired Shikongo.
Acting director Thomas Mabuku attended to the athletes and promised to arrange a meeting with the permanent secretary of the ministry this morning at 10h00. The team is expected to leave for Rio de Janeiro on Monday.