INSIZA North MP Andrew Langa was yesterday named Sport, Arts and Culture minister in the new government.
He will be deputised by Tabeth Kanengoni-Malinga.
The new ministry seems to be a response by President Robert Mugabe to calls for separating sport from education to unlock value and open doors for corporate partnerships and sponsorships which in the process could create jobs for the youth.
Mugabe went even further by appointing former Education, Sport, Arts and Culture deputy minister Lazarus Dokora as substantive minister for the new Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, while Olivia Muchena becomes Higher and Tertiary Education minister.
In the past, under David Coltart, sport struggled to get a voice, even a financial voice, as all attention — and rightly so — was on uplifting education.
And so, will Langa fit the bill, in particular when it comes to funding for the country’s most popular sport — football?
Zifa, the country’s football mother body, has been campaigning for an exclusive Ministry of Sport for a long time as they felt neglected in terms of resource allocation.
They are sitting on a $4 million debt and have recently launched a Zimbabwe Football Trust to fundraise and clear the arrears running into millions of dollars.
Property continues to be attached at the national association over various debts and elsewhere in today’s paper, some employees from the former regime of Wellington Nyatanga, whose tenure was entangled in the Asiagate match-fixing scandal, want more property to be attached to pay off monies owed to them.
Zifa have been advocating for the creation of a Sports ministry in the last few years and Mugabe had hinted during Benjani Mwaruwari’s testimonial match last year that he could accommodate them in future.
Zifa chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze said last night: “This is a victory for sport in general and football in particular.
And, this is a testament to the important role that sport plays globally in employment creation, recreation and unity development across cultures.
“It will help unlock the value of sport and convince the corporate world that sport is now being taken seriously. And its infusion with arts and culture also falls in line with the Millennium Development Goals. Investors who were waiting on the wings can now come in and put their money in competitions, infrastructure or even the various associations themselves.
“As the football family, we can’t wait to meet with the new minister and introduce to him the board, the trust, the golden jubilee committee and the 2014 Chan-bound senior men’s national team.”
Langa is coming in when the Basketball Union of Zimbabwe has failed to raise funds for the Afro-Basket Championships. The Hockey Association of Zimbabwe has also failed to get money for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
The national cricket team’s hosting of Sri Lanka is in doubt as Zimbabwe Cricket has asked for a postpoment. Magamba Stadium has to be refurbished to host next year’s World Club Championships, while Bulawayo has won the right to host the 2014 Zone Six Games.
A full plate for Langa!