BY THOBO MOTLHOKA
The Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture (MYESC) has climbed down from their decision to get rid of one of former president Ian Khama’s populist programmes. The Ministry released a statement last week that they were suspending Khama’s programmes, citing budgetary constraints.
A public statement released by the Ministry of Youth announced the suspension of the Constituency Sport Tournament (CST) popularly known as ‘Constituency League’ and the Constituency Arts Competitions (CAC).
In a curious turn of events the Ministry has since had a change of mind, announcing that Constituency Art Competitions and Sport Tournaments registration will continue as scheduled. “Any notices to the effect that they have been suspended should be ignored. Any inconvenience caused by such notices is regretted,” the ministry wrote on their Facebook page.
Speaking to Sunday Standard, Permanent Secretary Kago Ramokate denied any intentions to pull the plug on the two Khama projects. “In terms of principle there are no plans to put an end to the constituency competitions. We are continuing with the programme,” Ramokate said.
He however admitted there had been some internal discussions to determine whether to halt the sports and arts constituency competitions but no conclusions had been reached yet.
Ramokate pointed a finger at the Gaborone region saying they were too quick to release the statement. “The initial public statement was rather an impropriety on the side of the Gaborone region who rushed to release the statement. It was a miscommunication.” This is despite the fact that the letter bore the Ministry stamp and letterhead.
In reaction to the Ministry’s latest statement some expressed disappointment at the apparent change of mind. “Hold on Ministry,” wrote one Seits Matlala, “I alone thought there was a change for the good. I honestly think that with the programme being more than 10 years old some review or evaluation of its intended purpose must have been done to find out if it is still relevant. I think its hemorrhaging the ministry’s finances. It’s my suspicion that its profitability is not there. Can’t there be a shift in thinking and promote sustainable programs that can accelerate our sport performance? The kind of money spent on this program could have built a state of the art high performance center that could push more athletes to professionalism thereby creating jobs. I suggest constituency tournaments be put aside.”
For one Tabona Letang the competitions are a gift from up above. “Thank you for clarifying this issue because these tournaments are really important to some of us because they are our source of income and we also get to showcase our talent,” he wrote. The cancellation of the competitions was likely to fuel growing speculation about broken relations between President Mokgweetsi Masisi and his predecessor, Khama. While he has publicly denied it President Masisi seems to have taken the war to his predecessor, using executive powers to erase all things Ian Khama. The cancellation of the Constituency tournament would have been viewed as another deliberate assault on Khama’s legacy by his successor.