Moorosi Tsiane | Leemisa Thuseho
THE newly appointed Minister of Gender, Youth, Sport and Recreation, Likeleli Tampane, says she is working on policies that will force companies to invest in sport top as one of her top priorities.
Tampane was sworn a fortnight ago to replace Mahali Phamotse, whose Alliance of Democrats (AD), has been booted out of government.
In an exclusive interview with the Lesotho Times last week, the Democratic Congress’ (DC) Senqu legislator said it was time for companies to stop milking Basotho dry when they are not giving anything back for the development of sport.
“The lack of funding has been one of the hurdles in our sports development and the worst part is that the bulk of local companies are not giving anything to the country,” Tampane said.
“Our budget from the government is just too little and can’t pay for everything that we need hence we need the input of the corporate world.
“Immediately my appointment, to this ministry, I committed myself to improving the manner in which things are done. The first is to list the companies that I feel must assist us then we will approach them.”
Most importantly; she wants to ensure that she draws up policies that will compel companies to give a certain percentage towards a sport of their choice. This will be done in liaison with the Lesotho Sport and Recreation Commission (LSRC).
The efforts are meant to ensure the self-sustenance of national federations and relive the government of the burden of being the sole funder of sports activities.
She said she would also focus on the development aspect to ensure that the abundant talent inherent in Lesotho is groomed from a young age.
Tampane is ambitious and says by the end of her two-year tenure, she would have excelled. In fact, she says she is out to cleanse the ministry of anything that she feels her predecessor was doing wrong.
“I am here to excel and where the previous minister was doing right, I will continue but where I believe she was wrong, I won’t hesitate to change that with the assistance of the management.
“Apart from sports development, our focus will also be on infrastructure. We will forge relations with the Local Government and Chieftaincy ministry and come up with an agreement on the clearing of grounds wherever they would be constructing roads.
“My target in these two years is also to at least have re-constructed the four sport facilities that we already have because we currently don’t have budget for new grounds. It’s a shame that we only have one stadium. We must have more.”
The name Lesotho is synonymous with shambolic preparations for any international competitions partly due to delays in the commencement of preparations. But Tampane wants this to change immediately.
“Things have changed. We must all be positive. The trend of athletes getting fund late must stop. Just wait and see.”
Asked what she would do differently from her predecessors, Tampane simply said “just wait and see”.
Lesotho is expected to host the African Union Sport Council (AUSC) Region 5 games this December but by March, when the country stopped all sporting activities, the local team was yet to commence its preparations. In fact, the team had unsuccessfully attempted to hold a camp at the end of 2019 but failed to access the required funds.
Apart from the unavailability of funds to prepare for the games, the project had been marred by controversy and Tampane says she has already ordered her ministry to stop all the preparations. She wants to study the project first before she allows her ministry to continue the preparations.
“I have ordered the staff to stop everything which involves that project. Indeed there was lots of controversy and we will only start working on it once the study has been finalised.”
Earlier this year Tampane found herself at the firing end of the sporting community following her remarks in the National Assembly responding to Phamotse’s presentation on the games. The outspoken Tampane had said the project was a waste of money and should be aborted.
However, she said her statements are not bourne out of hatred for sports.
“I do not hate sports. I was actually once an athlete. I played taekwondo, volleyball, netball and did athletics.
“The comments were made after a national outcry over the games which were going to leave Lesotho with a huge debt. Apart from that, the former government was also divided on the issue hence it did not make sense to continue when the government itself was not fully on board. Lastly, I think the minister’s presentation was wrong and I couldn’t understand it.
“I still feel I made the right call that the project should be abandoned and relooked at,” Tampane said.