SPORT, Arts and Culture minister Andrew Langa yesterday defended his decision to channel most of government’s resources towards the African Union Sports Council Region Five Under-20 Youth Games to be held in Bulawayo in December.
Langa’s ministry tabled a budget of $46 million to cover new infrastructure and operational costs for the games before later reviewing the budget downwards to $16 million.
Critics have questioned the ministry’s decision to secure such a substantial amount of money to towards the games at a time two important national teams — the Warriors and the Sables — are in desperate need of financial support from government.
The Warriors have sunk to an all-time low following their exit from the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers where they relied on Zifa president Cuthbert Dube’s personal finances, while the national rugby side, the Sables, have soldiered on without any funding during the 2015 Rugby World Cup qualifiers.
Langa defended his ministry’s decision saying the Region Five Games, which will see 15 countries taking part, were of equal importance.
“We have the Region Five Games that will be taking place in Bulawayo later this year. These games will represent Zimbabwe — not only Bulawayo — with 15 countries visiting the country to take part,” Langa said.
“Obviously, we will want to win, but we cannot win if we don’t support them. That is the reason why I’m so much committed to these Region Five Games.
“Besides the Region Five Games in Bulawayo, we also have our own annual Youth Games in Masvingo which we will also support, together with the rugby team who have represented Zimbabwe so well. That’s why I have said let us go to Russia and win and I want to assure you that we will also do our best as government.”
A total of 15 countries namely hosts Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia, Namibia, Malawi, Lesotho, Botswana, Mozambique, Angola, Swaziland, the Seychelles, Mauritius, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo and Madagascar have confirmed their participation in the bi-annual competition.