THE Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) and sports associations have welcomed the move by President Robert Mugabe to create a Sports, Arts and Culture ministry, separate from that of education.
In the past, the aforementioned sectors were incorporated in one ministry.
However, the sports, arts and culture sectors have always been crying foul that they were not afforded the same priority that was given to education.
And Mugabe appears to have responded to the pleas. On Wednesday, he announced a Ministry of Sports, Arts and Culture with Insiza North Member of Parliament Andrew Langa as the minister.
SRC director of sports and recreation development Joseph Muchechetere welcomed the development.
“His Excellency has responded to the needs of the people. This has been done strategically in an attempt to profile sports, arts and culture to be given the priority it deserves,” Muchechetere said.
“Sports is a powerful tool to achieve political, economic and social development worldwide and the President has realised that. He has put sport in another level and like what we have seen on other countries like South Africa after they hosted the football World Cup, we are likely to see the power of sports also contributing to the development of our economy here.”
Two of the country’s most popular sports — soccer and cricket — have for a long time been calling for a separate ministry as they felt neglected in terms of resource allocation.
Zifa are struggling to sustain themselves with the association president, Cuthbert Dube, more often than not using his personal resources to fund the national teams.
The national cricket team is also struggling financially and they believe this new ministry is the answer to their problems.
Zimbabwe Cricket boss Peter Chingoka said the separation of the two ministries meant the resources would be equitably allocated thereby enhancing the performance of the national teams.
Minority sports had also been crying for assistance from the government for a long time now, but to no avail.
Darts president Meynard Moyo said: “It’s a good development and we are hoping that this ministry will not just focus on popular sporting disciplines, but also the minority sports like darts. We don’t usually get corporate sponsorship like these popular sports and this ministry is now our hope. We hope they will deliver.”
Zimbabwe Karate Union president Sensei Joe Rugwete is equally optimistic.
“In the previous arrangement, there was no way the government was going to allocate more resources to sports over education. But with the new arrangement, we are optimistic that for the first time in a very long time, the sports associations will get something from the National Budget. We have participated in world, continental and regional competitions and it was always disturbing to see that we were the only association with no government support. We are just hoping that this will now change, for the better,” Rugwete said.