MALAWI Govt "Shamed"

Govt takes Ocgam to task over preps
by Garry Chirwa, 28 January 2006 - 04:51:03
Minister of Sports Jaffali Mussa on Thursday summoned the Olympic and Commonwealth Games Association of Malawi (Ocgam) in Lilongwe and demanded an explanation on why there have been poor preparations in the countdown to the 2006 Commonwealth Melbourne Games.
A well placed source who attended the meeting said the minister demanded an explanation as to why athletes were made to go into camp earlier when it was initially agreed that camp training would start mid February.
According to the source, the minister is reported to have also accused the Ocgam executive of conniving with the Athletics Association of Malawi (AAM) to camp athletes in horrifying conditions so as to embarrass the government.
“The minister told them that the impression government has, is that it was done deliberately because of government’s delay in releasing funding towards the cause,” said the source.
Ocgam’s general secretary Helen Mpinganjira confirmed that the meeting indeed took place on Thursday.
“It is true that the minister called us and stated plainly that with the way things were, he was being swayed into thinking that we had connived with affiliates in order to shame the government.
“But we explained to him that the decision to camp the athletes was made by the AAM itself which felt that it was important to start camp training earlier. We gave the participating disciplines funding for preparations in two trunches.
“They were given the first trunch in September last year to start non-residential training and they got the second trunch in January this year. It was again meant for non-residential training. But as I said, AAM felt it was necessary to camp the athletes, we were not part of the decision,” she said
The Ocgam spokesperson also said the minister asked her committee about the budget and the shortfall towards the cause.
“We explained to the minister that the budget was about K15 million [about $120,000] and we got K6 million [about $48,000] from the organisers, leaving us with a shortfall of K9 million [about $72,000]. He assured that government will do something about it,” she said.
Mussa himself confirmed having met the Ocgam executive committee saying his main concern was to find out why the preparations started late.
“Of course I did demand an explanation on why the athletes had to be camped in such appalling conditions. But my main aim was to find out why preparations did not start much earlier considering that this was a big event.
“The Ocgam officials explained to me that they did not have enough resources and were still waiting for government’s contribution. But I explained to them that my ministry did not get the budget otherwise something should have been done about it long time back,” said the minister.
He also confirmed that government will release the K8.2 million [around $65,500] shortfall to meet the costs of preparations as well as the trip.
“We are going to give them that money so that we can intensify the preparations,” he said.
However, Mpinganjira contradicted the minister on the issue of budget submission saying her association submitted the budget in April last year which covered all the participating associations.
“I remember the budget was submitted to government through the Sports Council immediately after I returned from a meeting in Australia where it was confirmed that Malawi would take part in the Games. In fact, it was submitted when the previous committee headed by Jerome Waluza was still in office. Perhaps it all boils down to breakdown of communication” she said.
She also said that the minister has given her body the green light to communicate with him directly in future so as to avoid such situations.
“The only problem though is that procedurally we are supposed to go through Sports Council,” she said.
But asked on whether it is necessary for Malawi to send participants considering the poor preparations, all the stakeholders—government, Ocgam and the associations insisted that Malawi still has chances of doing well.
Mussa said: “All the disciplines have been training since September though on non-residential basis and they will go into full-scale preparations mid February, a month before the competition starts. So we have every hope that we’ll do well.”
AAM and Boxing Association of Malawi (Maba) also said they were confident they will do well.
“Preparations have not been good enough, but even on non-residential basis, our boxers have shown a lot of seriousness and hunger. It is therefore important that we should take part,” said Maba’s general secretary Henry Sakala.
Malawi is expected to be represented by eight disciplines at the event namely netball, athletics, boxing, swimming, table tennis, squash, bowling and disabled.