No funding in four years – NRU

By Michael Uugwanga 

THE Namibia Rugby Union (NRU) has revealed that for nearly four years the association has not been receiving funding from the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service towards development of the sport, salaries of staff, maintaining of the Hage Geingob Stadium, nor for the training of coaches and referees.  
Usually the Ministry gives a small portion from its budget to the Namibia Sports Commission (NSC), which is responsible for distributing funding towards sport codes including rugby.  
It is reported that NRU in the past used to receive around N$3 million from Government, however Confidente Sport Desk has it on record that the NRU last received its share of government funding in 2016; an amount reported to be in the region of N$1 million for the smooth running of the union. 
The requested amount at the time was about N$1.6 million of which till today the Ministry has not explained to the union what happened to the rest of the money. 
However the Ministry of Sport ministry has denied these claims by the NRU, saying they have been funding the union yearly. 
In the past there were numerous accusations of mishandling of finances by the NRU administration, however nobody was found guilty on charges filed. 
NRU president Corrie Mensah stated that the union had not been receiving annually funding. 
“I can confirm that the last time we received funding was in 2016 after the 2015 Rugby World Cup. We were supposed to receive around N$1.6 million instead we only got N$1 million and I do not know what happened to the rest of the other money,” he said. 
Mensah is also doing day-to-day work at NRU at no cost due to the financial constraints at the union to attract a full-time administrator on payroll. 
Former NRU president Bradley Basson who was at the helm between 2012 and 2018, also said that the union had not been fully funded by the government despite rugby being one of the prioritised sport codes in the country. 
“We were not fully funded. You can also follow-up with the NRU office to request the actual figures,” he said. 
Former acting Chief Executive Officer at NRU, Elizma Theron (2016 – 2018) also had this to say: 
“I do not have the financial records anymore, so I cannot give you the correct figures. But I do remember that we never received the approved allocated amounts from the Ministry while I was there. All amounts received were duly noted our financial records and audited annually”. 
NSC’s Chief Administrator, Freddy Mwiya said the commission stopped funding codes due to the line Ministry’s budget cuts, after saying that the commission only avails funding to federations and unions when attending major events. 
For the past three financial years, the sports ministry’s budget dwindled after it received an amount of N$288 million for the 2018/19 fiscal year, which was a massive N$97 million reduction from the N$385 million the ministry was allocated in the 2017/18 fiscal period; however the Ministry received N$306 million for the 2020/2021 financial year. 
“The last time we gave funding for NRU was in 2017. The funding stopped because the Ministry’s budget was cut therefore we only give funding on merit. It is not only in rugby but all other sport codes,” said Mwiya. 
Meanwhile, acting Executive Director in the Ministry of Sport, Edelbertha Katamba said the Ministry has been financially supporting the NRU for the past 10 years. 
Katamba also said that he is unaware of any amount the Ministry owes the NRU dating back to 2016. 
Last year, Government gave the NRU in the range of N$13 million for their qualification to the Rugby World Cup, he said. 
“The Namibian Government has been the major financial supporter of the Namibia Rugby Union for the past 10 years. As you are aware, Namibia participated at the sixth Rugby World Cup in 2019 and the team was financed by the Namibian Government.  
“The Hage Geingob Stadium is government property however the NRU is the one managing the stadium. The Ministry is responsible for paying utilities as well as the remuneration of full time employees that are stationed at the Hage Geingob Stadium. We have been giving NRU funding and you can visit our office to inspect the books. Our auditors are busy with the report NRU submitted after they returned from the 2019 Rugby World Cup. We are not aware of any debts (funding money) owed to the NRU,” said Katamba.