Po­lit­i­cal par­ties vow to pri­ori­tise sport

Lesotho Times - - News - Mikia Kalati

IT is elec­tion sea­son once again in Le­sotho and as is the norm, the politi­cians have been reach­ing out to dif­fer­ent sec­tors of the coun­try’s body politic with a plethora of prom­ises de­signed to sway the vote in favour of their par­ties.

Le­sotho heads for the polls on 3 June, the third time the coun­try is hold­ing elec­tions in five years.

This comes against the back­ground of the col­lapse of the Pakalitha Mosisili-led seven par­ties’ coali­tion gov­ern­ment af­ter a no con­fi­dence vote by the op­po­si­tion par­ties on 1 March.

And if the politi­cians are to be be­lieved, the coun­try could well be­come the Bi­b­li­cal Promised Land flow­ing with milk and honey.

Roads will be re­fur­bished, jobs will be cre­ated and the se­nior cit­i­zens will re­ceived de­cent monthly gra­tu­ities.

And even sport, so long a ne­glected sec­tor, will re­ceive the much-needed fund­ing and sup­port so that Le­sotho can fi­nally take its place among the great sport­ing na­tions of the world.

No more will sport­ing as­so­ci­a­tions such as the Le­sotho Net­ball As­so­ci­a­tion as well as Fed­er­a­tion of Le­sotho Rugby re­ceive a pal­try M100 000 as an­nual sub­ven­tion as they did in 2016.

Those peanuts made it al­most im­pos­si­ble for them to com­pete in in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tions let alone put in place de­vel­op­ment pro­grammes.

The Le­sotho Times Sports Re­porter Mikia Kalati caught up with dif­fer­ent po­lit­i­cal fig­ures who promised a new era for the sport­ing fra­ter­nity in the event they achieved power af­ter the polls.

Move­ment of Eco­nomic Change leader, Se­libe Mo­choboroane said his party stood for up­lift­ing the econ­omy and it would there­fore al­lo­cate ad­e­quate re­sources to­wards de­vel­op­ing the youth in­clud­ing through sport.

“We are aware of the role that sports can play in grow­ing the econ­omy and our pol­icy is to utilise every weapon that can up­lift our econ­omy,” Mr Mo­choboroane said, adding, “So we will put a lot of fo­cus on sports de­vel­op­ment and em­pow­er­ing the youth”.

The for­mer Small Busi­ness De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter said they would al­lo­cate more re­sources as well as en­cour­age Le­sotho Tele­vi­sion to ded­i­cate greater cov­er­age to lo­cal sports as a way of mar­ket­ing them to the global stage where they could se­cure more lu­cra­tive con­tracts.

“De­spite dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion, Le­sotho Tele­vi­sion has not done its part in pro­mot­ing our ath­letes and sports events to the out­side world.

“So we will do our best to im­prove LTV so that it has bet­ter con­tent and al­lo­cate more time for sports pro­grammes than what it has done over the years.

“We can go as far as cre­at­ing a sports chan­nel to mar­ket our ath­letes and sports ac­tiv­i­ties,” he said.

For his part, ABC leader and for­mer prime Min­is­ter, Thomas Tha­bane said his gov­ern­ment would play its part by “in­vest­ing in sports and en­cour­ag­ing our youth to take part in sports ac­tiv­i­ties from an early age”.

Dr Tha­bane, who is re­mem­bered for giv­ing the se­nior Likuena soc­cer play­ers a mo­ti­va­tional talk just days af­ter his in­au­gu­ra­tion as the prime min­is­ter in 2012, said his party has al­ways been com­mit­ted to youth em­pow­er­ment.

“We have been firm on our man­i­festo that youth em­pow­er­ment is a pri­or­ity and we are aware that sports is no longer a means of en­ter­tain­ment, but ath­letes make a good liv­ing out of it hence we have to sup­port them by in­vest­ing in sports in­fra­struc­ture,” he said, adding, “It is well known that the whole world loves and en­joy sports ac­tiv­i­ties and we can­not be left out.”

“Sport has also be­come a way of fight­ing poverty and boost­ing the econ­omy of the coun­try.

“So we will also play our part by in­vest­ing in sports and en­cour­ag­ing our youth to take part in sports ac­tiv­i­ties from an early age as it is also en­cour­aged to pro­mote good health,” Dr Tha­bane said.

Ba­sotho Na­tional Party leader, Th­e­sele ‘Maserib­ane said one of the main items on his party’s agenda was to en­sure Le­sotho be­came a des­ti­na­tion of choice for sport­ing events like it did in 2013 dur­ing his ten­ure as Min­is­ter of Sports.

Le­sotho hosted the re­gional un­der-20 COSAFA Cup.

“As a Min­is­ter of Sports, you should en­sure your coun­try can at least host re­gional and con­ti­nen­tal com­pe­ti­tions such as the COSAFA Cup as we did when I was min­is­ter a few years back,” Chief ‘Maserib­ane said.

“One of my goals would be in­fras­truc­tural de­vel­op­ment as well as pro­grammes to nur­ture young tal­ent.

“The pri­mary schools and sec­ondary need fa­cil­i­ties to iden­tify and nur­ture tal­ent.”

The BNP leader said there was also a chal­lenge when it came to the sports ad­min­is­tra­tion, adding it would be nec­es­sary to hold stake­hold­ers con­fer­ence to map a way for­ward.

“There is need to bring all stake­hold­ers to­gether to find so­lu­tions to our prob­lems in sports.

“The cor­po­rate world, in­ter­na­tional sports bod­ies and na­tional as­so­ci­a­tions, should all be brought to­gether to com­mer­cialise sports. We need to proper sys­tems in­clud­ing mar­ket­ing to so that our play­ers can go over­seas and make money from their God-given tal­ents.

He said the coun­try could also ben­e­fit by pro­mot­ing win­ter sports which would also boost tourism.

“But at the same time cor­rup­tion has be­come a prob­lem and I be­lieve if the money this coun­try had had been used prop­erly then there would be greater progress by now,” he said.

For his part, Min­is­ter of Min­ing, Le­bo­hang Thotanyana said much more had to be done in the pro­vi­sion of in­fra­struc­ture to help in sports de­vel­op­ment.

Mr Thotanyana, who is also Li­oli pres­i­dent how­ever, said sports as­so­ci­a­tions also had a role to play by putting their houses in or­der and be­ing more ac­count­able in or­der to get more fund­ing.

“Gov­ern­ment has tried to as­sist in sports de­vel­op­ment but the sport­ing fra­ter­nity must also know what they want.

“Yes, there is more that can be done, but there should be a clear roadmap from the sports as­so­ci­a­tions of what they want to achieve.”

Mr Thotanyana who also served as the pre­mier league chair­per­son and at the Le­sotho Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion be­fore his min­is­te­rial ap­point­ment, said his Le­sotho Congress for Democ­racy (LCD) party was com­mit­ted to de­vel­op­ing sports in the coun­try.

“We (LCD) sup­port sports em­pow­er­ment among the youth be­cause we know how im­por­tant it is to this coun­try.”

He said in­fra­struc­ture is the big­gest chal­lenge for Le­sotho to be able to reach the level of its coun­ter­parts in the south­ern African re­gion.

As chair­per­son of Li­oli FC, Thotanyana also said he was aware of the fi­nan­cials con­straints that were hold­ing back the coun­try’s de­vel­op­ment.

“I think the most im­por­tant thing in this mat­ter is ac­count­abil­ity and there is more that gov­ern­ment can do if there are clear poli­cies from as­so­ci­a­tions in the way they op­er­ate,” he said.

BNP leader Th­e­sele ‘Maserib­ane.

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