You Can’t Blame Maqelepo

By Nthako Majoro

As usual, the President of the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA), KC Salemane Phafane, is criticising the Government of Lesotho for failing to finance the senior national team, Likuena. Phafane admitted during a press briefing at LeFA headquarters, Bambatha Ts’ita, on Monday that this has been an issue for years.

This is obvious; it doesn’t matter who is in charge—the Prime Minister or the Minister of Sports. The situation remains the same. Of course, we cannot say the same thing about the leaders of yesteryear, such as former sports minister ’Mathabiso Lepono, among others.

However, we can say the same thing about the recent former sports ministers. During her tenure as sports minister, Lepono tried all she could to make funds available for any international sporting activity.

She was the first sports minister to secure funds for Likuena’s 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, where each player received M8,000 per match. I am not suggesting that the current or other previous sports ministers could have done the same, but my point is that Lepono was different.

One of my friends who worked for the sports ministry at the time used to tell me that Lepono could not easily give up when it came to securing sports funds. Instead, she could be a nuisance to those responsible for the government’s finances.

Again, I am not saying the current Minister of Sports, Motlatsi Maqelepo, must do the same. I am just highlighting Lepono’s example. Back to Phafane’s criticism, he is right to direct the blame at the entire Government of Lesotho and not just the minister of sports.

To be honest, if the Government, through its Parliament, does not take sports seriously, how can we expect the minister responsible for sports to be different? Ministers are the faces of the government, and when they fail to do their duty, the whole government fails. So you cannot differentiate the two.

Therefore, in this case, you cannot blame Maqelepo alone. Unless you expect him to have personally financed the national team’s international competitions. If we were to suggest that, the question would be, why don’t each of us contribute to sports funding? The answer is simple: we are already paying taxes for the government to take care of its people.

This means the Government fails if ordinary people must contribute to a national team’s international matches. Like LeFA’s President, making it clear that he was not talking about the private sector but the Government, let us also not blame the business community.

Yes, the private sector can invest in sports as others do, but that does not absolve the Government from its responsibility to support its national teams. Again, it is not only LeFA that is not getting the Government’s support but all the sporting federations in the country.