Government says it will withhold all grants meant for the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ), this year to recover the money spent on Elijah Tana’s fruitless trip to Ghana where he was not included in the Zambia National soccer team that has since been ejected from the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations in that country.
Sports Minister Gabriel Namulambe said he felt fooled and cheated that he went out of his way to facilitate for Tana’s trip, when some officials at FAZ had already submitted a list of players to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) that would represent Zambia, but deliberately chose to mislead him.
Namulambe said this when he met Provincial and District Sports Advisory Committees in Livingstone today to sensitize them on the importance of developing sports in their respective areas and preparing adequately for Zambia’s hosting of the All Africa games in 2011.
The Sports minister said FAZ will have to find money elsewhere this year because government will withhold all the grants to make up for the money that was wasted to take Tana to Ghana when those in FAZ knew he was not going to play.
He said it was unfortunate for the national soccer team technical committee to be ignorant about which players were selected to play because this meant that someone at FAZ was making personal decisions at the expense of the Zambian taxpayer.
“Spending taxpayers’ money should be done in public and not in personal interest.” he said.
Namulambe said he did not condemn the performance of those who played but added that deliberate efforts should have been made to ensure experienced players like Tana were included in the team.
Meanwhile, the sports minister has given a go-ahead to African Impact, a non- governmental organization to construct a K2 billion sports community complex at the Livingstone Villa grounds.
Namulambe said government was ready to partner with organizations that were interested in promoting and developing sports in the country.
“We are ready as government to partner with organizations such as yours but all we ask for in return is for you to make genuine investments which will be beneficial to our people.” Namulambe said.
He was impressed with the plans forwarded by the NGO to put up football grounds, tennis, basketball, netball and volleyball courts, a borehole, library, kiosk and other facilities for minority sports disciplines like badminton, squash, judo and karate.
He urged the organisation to work in collaboration with the District Sports Advisory Committee to avoid duplication of programmes and to ensure the project was a success.
And African Impact Programme manager, Richard Leach said the sports complex will provide a safe haven for all communities in Livingstone because sport brought people together.
Leach said the international coaches that will come to the tourist capital to train youths in various sports disciplines will generate favourable publicity for Livingstone in particular and the country at large.
Leach said Zambia has a lot of talent waiting to be developed to perfection.
He said construction of the sports complex will begin in earnest since the minister has now given a greenlight.