……Presidency and Youth Ministry contradict each other over Para-Champs
Just days after the Ministry of Youth and Sports indicated that it had written letters- albeit with no luck-to the presidency to request an audience for Paralympic champions Ananias Shikongo and Johannes Nambala, the presidency has come out with contrary information.Presidential Spokesperson Albertus Aochamub responded to questions sent by this publication on claims that the presidency is inconsistent when it comes to honouring athletes.
Deputy Youth Minister Agnes Tjongarero told this publication during an interview last week that requests advanced for President Hage Geingob to meet the two athletes were made on two separate occasions through writing, but those requests are yet to yield any “response” from the highest office in the land.“In cases when athletes seek the audience of the President, all we do as a Ministry is write a letter to the State House, that is the normal procedure. We have done that (written letters) twice and we are still waiting for the response from the State House,” Tjongarero affirmed last week.
On the contrary however, upon enquiry on the matter this week, the Presidency said that a letter dated “28 April 2017” from the Minister of Youth was only received by State House this week. Aochamub said: “A letter dated Friday, 28 April 2017 by the Minister of Youth and Sport and addressed to the President on the subject of query was received yesterday, 2 May 2017.” The fact the Precedency received a “letter” contradicts the statement made by the Youth Ministry that it has written “twice” to the State House. More so, it cannot be said at this stage as to when the President will be ready to receive and host the two Paralympians. “The President will respond to the Minister of Youth and Sport today, 3 May 2017 in writing. The President’s letter to the Minister will confirm his readiness to receive and hosting of the champion athletes at Statehouse at a date and time to be agreed,” Aochamub said.
Despite winning multiple medals both at the Rio games (three medals) and at the FAZAA World Para Athletes Grand Prix in Dubai this year (three gold medals), Shikongo is eager to meet the President, something which has become a precedence for Namibians who perform exceptionally on the continental or international sports arena. When Johanna Benson won Namibia’s first ever gold medal in 2012 at the London Paralympics, the then President Hifikepunye Pohamba rewarded her with a diplomatic passport, a house worth N$1.5 million and a grant amounting to N$170 000. Additionally when the Namibian male football team (Brave Warriors) won the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) Cup in 2015, government gave each player N$50 000. The team was further treated to a special dinner at the State House with the President. Last month, Julius Indongo was treated to a heroic welcome at the State House after successfully unifying the WBA, IBF and IBO belts. The visit was Indongo’s second to the State House in 2017.
Venting his disappointment and frustrating last week, Shikongo took to his personal Facebook account to ask President Geingob whether his achievement was not “worth recognition”. “We have nothing against Indongo but it sends a bad picture to people with disability, especially the young athletes. Does this mean our achievements are not worth the recognition? It is pure discrimination and we are very disappointed,” lamented Shikongo. In the same light however the Presidency has maintained that it is “proud” of Namibian athletes who flying the country’s flag. “We are proud of all our sporting personalities who continue to fly the Namibian flag on the international sporting stage making us all winners,” Aochamub stated.