MASERU – Lesotho athletes are facing a big challenge of lack of funds which has already forced them to stop their participation at some of the compulsory international events like the All Africa Games qualifiers.
The athletes who have suffered because of the prevailing lack of funds include volleyball players who were preparing for the Zone 6 Zonal Qualifiers taking place in Maputo, Mozambique from May 31 to June 8.
Maputo volleyball Zone 6 events are meant for the upcoming All Africa Games to be held in Rabat and Casablanca, Morocco from August 19 to 31.
Lesotho was preparing two volleyball teams; one for males and another for females. Lesotho Volleyball Association (LVA) spokesperson, Buller Phalatse, said they had to dissolve both teams after they failed get funds for the trip.
“We have had to dissolve the teams because we did not receive funds from the Ministry of Gender and Youth, Sports and Recreation,” Phalatse told Public Eye on Tuesday this week.
“There was nothing we could do and we are very disappointed with what happed.”
The government of Lesotho, through the Ministry of Gender and Youth, Sports and Recreation, allocates funds to the Lesotho Sport and Recreation Commission (LSRC) for the latter to disperse an annual subvention to sports associations in the country.
The Minister of Finance, Dr Moeketsi Majoro, presented the country’s budget in March this year. However, LSRC public relations officer, Teboho Rakhomo, said they had so far not received any money from the ministry despite the fact that the government had earlier said it could only afford to allocate M2 million for sports instead of the usual M7 million because there’s no money.
The same amount, Rakhomo said, is also meant for the LSRC secretariat.
Last time, sports subvention to M9 million after LSRC was also allocated funds for the Lesotho High Altitude Summer Marathon and the royal horses’ races, both which used to be distributed straight from the ministry of sports.
“In fact, as LSRC we are not aware that LVA has dissolved the teams. But the current prevailing situation of the finances in the LSRC is that the funding which we distribute to the associations as part of their subvention is from the ministry of sports and, as things stand, we have written to all the associations to freeze their activities until such time when the government deposits the money into the LSRC account,” said Rakhomo in an interview with Public Eye on Tuesday this week.
This happens at the time when Lesotho is going to host the next African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5 Under-20 Youth Games in 2020 and the 2022 African Youth Games.
“What I can tell you for now is that the budget which was to be allocated for LSRC was only M2 million, and it was again the initiative of the commission to go back to the ministry to see what could be done to increase the subvention as we are now going to host the 2020 games.
“And if we are still getting M7 million for the (LSRC) secretariat, which we are also expected to share with its associations for their programs, it means we are going to fail to prepare our teams sufficiently for the Region 5 Games which we are going to host.”
Rakhomo said this would mean that Lesotho would not be ready to prepare its teams for the games. However, he said the matter is still before the ministry.
“But if that will be impossible, then it will mean that the ministry will give us M2 million which is what they said is what they would afford from the beginning.
“And it is going to be difficult to operate with that amount for the administration of the LSRC office while it is also expected to cater for all the expenses, including staff salaries,” Rakhomo said.
He said LSRC staff need over M300 000.00 for salaries and if they were going to get M2 million it would mean at some point the commission would not be able to fund the secretariat and pay its staff.
“The money will not be able to sustain the expenses of the secretariat and pay staff salaries. So it is not surprising that the volleyball association has cancelled its trip to Maputo because, to be honest, there’s no money.”
The current situation also affects the Lesotho women rugby team, Kingdom Select, which is competing in one of the Free State rugby leagues.
Kingdom Select played their first-ever game in the league last Saturday, which they won 24-5 over Wolverines. But Select coach Roy Nyasha on Tuesday this week said they could not afford transport for the games.
“But we still have a problem of securing transport to go to the venues since LSRC has stopped all the sporting trips due to the fact that the government has not yet given them money for the associations to operate,” Nyasha said.
He reiterated: “So we are having difficulties in securing funding for our trips. We normally hire Sprinters for which we are charged between M8 500 and M11 000 for us to go the games, and these are prices which we are already struggling to raise.”
Nyasha said this has forced them to go to the games with only 20 players, while they would ideally want to take more team members if funds are available.
The Select team, as one of the Lesotho picking teams, is supposed to get funding from the Federation of Lesotho Rugby (FLR) of which Nyasha is also the development officer.
FLR, like other affiliates of the LSRC, rely on a subvention from the commission.
Chief Information Officer in the Ministry of Gender and Youth, Sports and Recreation, Maqalika Matsepe, could not deny the fact that LSRC was yet to get the annual subvention from his ministry.
However, he also could not go into details why the money has not been allocated and why the subvention was cut from M7 million to M2 million.
“If they talk about the subvention not being allocated, that one I cannot deny. But I will have to ask from the department of finance how far they are with it,” Matsepe said.