Leemisa Thuseho | Moorosi Tsiane
LESOTHO will no longer host the African Union Sports Council Region 5 (AUSC) Games.
According to the games’ Local Organising Committee (LOC) chairperson Fusi Notoane, the decision to withdraw from hosting the games was communicated to them this week by the Minister of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation, Likeli Tampane.
Notoane said they met the minister on Monday and she cited the lack of funds as her reason for withdrawing from hosting the games.
She said the government was short of funds as it was grappling the Covid-19 pandemic.
The development comes after a Region 5 ministers’ troika virtual meeting last Friday resolved to postpone the games to December 2021. The games had been initially been set to be held this December but the ministers resolved to move them because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Tampane also confirmed the postponement.
The troika meeting was between sports ministers from Malawi (the next hosts), Botswana (previous hosts) and Lesotho (the hosts).
Notoane told the Lesotho Times that the minister on Monday advised them of her decision to immediately withdraw from hosting the games.
“We met with the minister on Monday and she told us that she was cancelling the project,” Notoane said.
“She informed us that the country doesn’t have money to host the games as all the funds have been diverted to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We have already informed the Regional Organising Committee (ROC) for guidance and we will wait to hear what they say.”
The LOC has been preparing for the games since its June 2018.
As part of the preparations, the Sports ministry intended to build a sports complex at Lepereng in Maseru and some sporting facilities at the National University of Lesotho (NUL). However, the projects were halted after red flags were raised about the budget and the financing company.
Then sports minister, the late Kabelo Mafura signed the pledge to host the games in 2017. Mafura died in December 2017 and was replaced by Mahali Phamotse who was replaced by Tampane in May this year after the fall of the Thomas Thabane regime.
Countless efforts to get a comment from Tampane were fruitless from Tuesday until we go for print yesterday as she said she was in a meeting.
This would have been Lesotho’s first time to host the games. The country was expecting to host 3 000 athletes and 1 500 officials from nine member-states namely; Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, eSwatini, Zambia and Zimbabwe.