Future of Sport Ministry in limbo

… As plans get underway to reduce ministries

By Michael Uugwanga

TWO well-known former sport commissioners Eliphas ‘Aupap’ Shipanga and Callie Schafer, have welcomed President Hage Geingob’s New Year’s Eve speech in which he spoke of his intention to reduce the size of Cabinet, although the President did not elaborate on the issue.

Some people are of the opinion that the reduction could mean that some ministries would be merged as a way of saving costs, which could have either a negative or a positive outcome.

Confidente Sport Desk has identified the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service as a ministry that could possibly be merged with another or revert back to the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, previously the Ministry of Basic Education, Sport and Culture, which could see sport becoming a directorate within the ministry once again.

The Ministry of Sport, Youth National Service is one of the most poorly funded ministries, despite sport being one of the biggest industries globally. The Namibian government has not prioritised sport to the extent it did funding education, health and defence that continue to enjoy the largest chunks of the national budget.

During the 2019/2020 financial year the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service received a budget allocation of N$286 million, a N$2 million reduction from the N$288 million the ministry received in the previous financial year, which is a bit worrisome to sport leaders who have for many years been crying for more funding towards sport in order for Namibia to win more medals at major sporting events, such as at the Olympics, Commonwealth Games and atworld championships.

Despite the meagre resources at their disposal, Namibian athletes continue to excel globally, but clearly if more funding were given to sport, Namibian athletes could find themselves as regular winners at major sporting events.

State House at this stage would not elaborate on the President’s statement about the possibility of merging the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service with another ministry or the effect the move could have on sport.

“The President will pronounce himself at the appropriate time regarding the structure of Cabinet and the number of reduced ministries. The media and the public will be informed accordingly about the decisions taken by the President,” said Alfredo Hengari, press secretary at State House.

Political analyst Ndumba Kamwanya also said that it is premature at this stage to say that some ministries will be merged, although he did not rule out such a move.

“The President did not specify the numbers of Cabinet or to cut advisors. It is likely that some ministries, such as Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare and Gender Equality could be emerged with that of Health and Social Services,” said Kamwanya.

From a sporting perspective, Schafer who was a sport commissioner from 1990 to 2000, appealed to the President to maintain the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service and in the same breath urged government to pump more money into the line ministry.

“The president must maintain the ministry. The budget allocation towards sport is too small. Sport needs to be prioritised,just like education and health. Companies can only invest if they know that they will get a return,” said Schafer in an interview with Confidente Sport.

Shipanga, who was part of the team that drafted the Sport Act in 1995 alongside former director of Sport Dr Vetumbuavi Veii, concurred with Schafer, saying that the president should maintain the Ministry of Sport, buthe was also worried that sport in Namibia is not properly developed in terms of identifying talent in all parts of the country.

“Sport is a vehicle that can unlock the unemployment in the country. The President should consider keeping the Sport ministry the way it is. We have a national agenda (Vision 2030) and we only have 10 years left. A lot is yet to be done in sport but that comes with good funding, because if our sport is well funded it will meet government half way, such as fighting unemployment among the youth,” Shipanga said.