Saturday 17 April 2021
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“Government is still committed to the sport sector,” Ekandjo

Regardless of the financial turbulences that have brought the sport fraternity to the knees, Sports, Youth and National Services minister jerry Ekandjo says that government and his ministry remains devoted the promise.
The minister said his ministry is cognisant of the challenges facing the sport industry in terms of attaining excellence saying, “The current economic headwinds that have engulfed our country is not only unique to sport but to many development sectors in Namibia.”
Ekandjo was responding to questions send to his ministry by The Patriot Sport to enquire on his stance to the current hamstrung sector that has seen many dormant and breadwinners sent to the streets.
In response to what the ministry plans to implement this year, Ekandjo promised that the ministry plans to improve the basic sport infrastructure in order to build meaningful sport development in the country. “It is also important to identify athletes` talent at a young age and continue to nurture them to become a career.”
In 2015, the minister assured the nation that he will make sports in the country great again by constructing sports facilities in all constituencies. The delivery on this promise has since never been seen and many have questions when it was to be delivered. Ekandjo said that the intention remains as such but the current economic situation has had ist negative share on the promise.
“Every Namibian knows the current economic situation our country is going through, which has caused government to drastically cut its cost including the reduction in the Development Budget where financial resources for the development of such facilities are derived from.”
“These are hard times that call for tough decisions and alignment of our priorities in spending. Once the Namibian Economy has recovered, the Ministry will dedicate its focus to that project”
The minister has been questioned on numerous times why he has been tight-lipped on the sinking Namibia Premier League ship. Government has distanced itself from saving the league with reasons that governments stand in no position to engage in football affairs.
The absence of a potential sponsor for the NPL has forced many to take off the boots and sit with no income. Equally, sports programs have been on a snail-move and eventually reached stagnation over the year.
This left many children in school deprived of taking part in any sport activity at school level.
To this Ekandjo said the ministry is unable to support the NPL. However, they have pledged their full moral support through the Namibia Football Association in their efforts of securing funding from the corporate industry.
“Although the Ministry understands NPL`s predicament and the impact it will have on the football, worldwide, the trend is such that individual sport codes look for sponsors for their activities, individually. Central government is not involve in it. In this regard, NPL is expected to approach the corporate world for sponsorship for their activities.”
The para-athletes Johannes Nambala and Ananias Shikongo who lifted the country’s flag last year at the Rio summer games to date not received the price monies for begging international medals as promised. Talks are that they have also not yet be called to State House to be congratulated as it was the norm in yesteryears when sportsmen/women did the country proud.  The minister underlined that the tight public kitty remains the reason to why the athletes have no yet received their prize monies, citing reference to state of things when the para-athletes went to participate.  “You will remember that when these events were taking place, the Mid-term Budget Review had not taken place yet.
At that juncture, the Ministry had the financial resources to reward these athletes. However, as you are well aware, the Mid-term Budget Review reduced the budget of all Ministries by implementing cuts in various areas.
These budget cuts impacted the Ministry`s ability to honour some of its commitments which amongst others include the rewarding of the Paralympians. Given the current financial environment and the austerity measures being implemented, the Ministry is currently in no position to put a time frame on when it will reward the Paralympians.”
Sport enthusiasts have criticised government’s poor sight of seeing sport as a potential creation sector for its continued lack of prioritising the sector over the years. The minister distanced himself from the assertion saying it is a “misconception.”
“In the first place, building skills through sport programmes provide employment opportunities. Sport is also an important source of public and private expenditure in areas such as infrastructure, hosting of local and international events that has the capacity to attract large number of people.”  Ekandjo believes that these factors can contribute to the economic growth of the country. He however calls on the private sector to take a proactive role in the matter.

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