Major political parties in the country have outlined ambitious sports development promises in their electoral manifestos focusing on infrastructure development, nurturing talent and improving athletes’ welfare.
However, critics have warned that chances of most pledges being fulfilled are minimal.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP,) which is yet to fulfil a pledge made 12 years ago, to construct an indoor netball court, has pledged to construct a new stadium in Mzuzu and Blantyre, apart from constructing stadia for Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers.
The party, in its sports related promises, has also said it will establish a national football and netball academy where “our youths will be enrolled full-time from a tender age to become professional sportspersons.”
UTM has outlined commitments on nurturing talent, sports infrastructure rehabilitation and construction, combating corruption in the sector and promoting athletes’ welfare.
The party has also hinted that it will woo companies to invest in sports.
“UTM shall consider offering incentives to private businesses that invest in sports through infrastructure development and sponsorship agreements,” the manifesto reads in part.
On its part, the United Democratic Front (UDF) has laid down a 14-point plan aimed at improving sports infrastructure and inducing commercilisation.
“We shall develop the sports industry through formulating a sports industry policy and developing the sports market, set out general norms and standards and bolster sports infrastructure also as part of revenue generation,” the manifesto reads in part.
It further stresses on enforcing accountability among various sports disciplines.
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) manifesto does not promise much on sports, but highlights that it will construct a netball complex.
It reads: “Construct a state-of-the-art national netball complex capable of hosting international competitions to fast-track our 10-year goal to become the number one netballing country in the world.”
In an interview, the party’s spokesperson Reverend Maurice Munthali defended the manifesto in sports development.
“Most of the sports projects are already in the pipeline so we did not want to repeat those. The one which we felt was lacking was the netball facility,” he said.
Sports analyst George Kaudza-Masina feared that the blueprints were just a ploy to attract votes, especially from the youth.
“Most of the voters are youths who are the target of the concerned parties. This is the same with all the parties as they are promising the moon in their manifestos on sports development,” he said.
Kaudza-Masina also pointed out that with the country’s economic challenges, it would be pointless to hope that the promises will be fulfilled.
Seasoned sports administrator James Chiutsi observed that the manifestos could have been elaborate on development of sports for people with disabilities.
Only UDF has mentioned that it will develop disability sports.
“We shall invest in sporting facilities, especially for people with disabilities,” reads the manifesto.
Chiutsi, who is Malawi Paralympics Committee chairperson, emphasised the need for the promised facilities to be disability friendly.
Ahead of next month’s tripartite elections, the parties—Democratic Progressive Party, Malawi Congress Party (MCP), UTM and United Democratic Front (UDF) have launched their 2019-24 manifestos, loaded with pledges they would undertake once elected. n