Who is running gymnastics in Namibia?

Michael Uugwanga

IT is no secret that the sport of gymnastics in the country is currently being run by two different bodies, the Namibia Gymnastics Federation (NGF) which is being spearheaded by Vivienne Katjiuongua on an interim basis and the Namibian Gymnastics, which is run by Sonja Olivier.

NGF has for many years been the only recognised body responsible for gymnastics in the country; acknowledged by the Namibia Sports Commission (NSC), Namibia National Olympic Committee (NNOC), the Commonwealth Games Association (CGA), Union of African Gymnastics (UAG) and by the International Gymnastics Federation (IGF).

In August last year, NSC and NNOC appointed an interim executive to run the affairs of gymnastics in the country due to alleged in-house squabbles and mismanagement however the move was not welcomed by then president of NGF, Sonja Olivier, who was replaced by Katjiuongua.

The NGF interim executive committee at is comprised of chairperson Katjiuongua and Lesley Vermeulen from the Athletes Commission. The other member was Eliphas Shipanga, who passed on this month.

The committee was put in place with the aim of normalising the situation and prepare for an elective congress in four months since their appointment in August, however that has not happened.

Both the NSC and NNOC acted within the provisions of Article 28c of the Namibia Sport Act, which empowers them to take such measures against federations and umbrella bodies when circumstances so dictate.

On the other hand, the Namibian Gymnastics emerged, and according to its interim president Olivier, is also recognised by CGA, UAG and IGF.

Ironically, the name change from NGF to Namibian Gymnastics was on instruction of the Namibia Sports Commission (NSC) more than five years ago, as it clashes with that of the Namibia Golf Federation (NGF).

NSC chief administrator, Freddy Mwiya told Confidente Sport that Namibian Gymnastics which is under the leadership of Olivier is not a recognised body by the commission therefore the NSC and NNOC have distanced themselves from Namibian Gymnastics.

Mwiya also said that NGF (led by Katjiuongua) is expected to hold its elective congress next month, a month after Namibian Gymnastics holds its elective congress on March 27.

“The new organisation (Namibian Gymnastics) is not recognised by NSC and she (Olivier) is not even recognised by her own gymnastics clubs.  She will be running around until she will find no followers.  She (Olivier) will be running her own elective congress,” said Mwiya.

Reacting to claims made by the NSC chief, Olivier said that Namibian Gymnastics is the rightful body responsible for running the affairs of gymnastics in the country

Olivier also questioned the leadership of Katjiuongua and her other interim members for failing to address the real issue on the ground.

“On 5 February 2021, six months have passed since the ill-fated IC was announced to have been established. They have failed to amend the constitution, and arrange for an elective AGA … have miserably failed to deliver on their alleged mandate in all of these tasks, failed to set criteria and/or a vetting process, nor established any platform for the application/re-application for membership, failed to establish any platform for the registrations of gymnasts, coaches and judges for the competitive year, failed to further the organisation and planning of the African Championships and FIG Council to be hosted in Swakopmund in mid-May 2021 and they also failed to contract sponsorships and donations,” she said.  Olivier said preparations for the elective congress are going as planned.

“According to our constitution we do not use the word annual general election but elective general assembly. Everything is going smooth and the 14 clubs are ready for the elective general assembly slated for 27 March.  I do not want to mention the names of the 14 clubs as they will be victimised,” said Olivier. Reached for explanation, Katjiuongua could not comment on the matter referring Confidente’s queries to both NSC and NNOC.

“Please refer your questions to the NSC and NNOC as they are better placed to clarify on this matter,” she said.